Joe Root is all set to join a pantheon of 14 England cricketers who have played 100-plus Test matches, when he leads his side in the opening match of the four-Test series against India at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on February 5 (Friday).
The 30-year-old from Yorkshire, who made his Test debut in Nagpur eight winters ago scoring 73 and 20 not out, and has 584 runs from six Tests against India at 53.09, spoke to The Hindu ahead of what promises to be a memorable occasion. Excerpts:
On the landmark: It's great to come full circle and be back here [in India]. The way it started on that first tour in 2012, it was a real eye-opener for me, learning to play spin, playing with some great players and strong opposition. To come back to Chennai and play my 100th Test is very special. I can’t wait.
Batting in India: You’ve got to be prepared to bat for long periods. When you get in, especially in the first innings, you've got to really make it count. That’s what we’ll be aiming to do. Hopefully, we can stay in the game for as long as possible and take every Test deep against a quality side.
You've got to be patient, especially as an English player when you are used to playing mainly against seam. You've got to be accepting [of the fact that] the ball will turn and pass the bat. You're allowed to get it wrong on occasions, but you've got to stay calm and be quite clear about where you're going to score your runs. I think it's really important to be able to trust your defence and also have clarity of where you want to score your boundaries.
Wicket-taking struggles of the past: In the past we have struggled to take 20 wickets, especially away from home. But I think we've discovered a way of doing that (take 20 wickets). We've also become more consistent and we make big first innings runs. We have now gone six or seven times past the 400 mark in the last 12 or so Tests, which is a great achievement and something that we need to keep doing if we're going to seriously compete in away conditions.
On the team: We've got a very ambitious group of players who are willing to learn and want to get better all the time. We are open to new thinking and learning from other sides and players who have had success in similar conditions.