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How can England help out Joe Root?

England's Joe Root
England's Joe Root
©Reuters
 

Having gone into the final day of the first Test against India, weather conditions prevented England from completing a more encouraging performance than the week before. At times, they were embarrassed at Trent Bridge with the tourists cruising into an early lead. Had it not been for the England captain Joe Root though, things could have gone a lot worse. Root put together a great display to keep his side within contention for the final day, but after rain had already delayed the start in Nottingham, the game was eventually abandoned and called as a draw.

Despite Root’s disappointment with the cancellation, those who had made a cricket bet knew England were fortunate as their other batters simply paled in comparison to India. Root was a one-man team at times, with his fourth day century providing some outside hope, but not exactly being assisted by his colleagues.

The frustrating performance from Zak Crawley puts him in a perilous situation, with his place in the side looking vulnerable. But Root was quick to jump to his defence saying:  "Zak is a very strong character, he has to keep looking at bringing that to his game when he goes out there.

"He has shown everyone he can perform at this level. Next time he gets out there, he needs to make sure he believes in that. In terms of selection, we'll talk about that over the coming days and have real clarity going into the second Test."

The lack of quality batters, including Ben Stokes who has taken time away from cricket to focus on his mental health, has given head coach Chris Silverwood a selection headache and leaves England fans unsure where to place their bets scouring through the cricket tips. One player that will be called up to help Joe Root is Moeen Ali. The left-handed batsman joins the set up after participating in the inaugural season of The Hundred for Birmingham Phoenix. Ali was part of the Phoenix side that comprehensively swept aside Welsh Fire at Edgbaston, in turn setting a new record with a 93-run victory. With the clustered schedule, he is certainly an asset for this otherwise lukewarm England side.

When asked about their shortcomings, Root pointed out the issues with the domestic calendar, not to mention we are only a couple of months away from the ICC T20 World Cup — now taking place in the United Arab Emirates. The limited opportunities for red ball cricket to be played means the side lacks cohesion and real preparation for the Test matches. Ollie Robinson has just played two Test matches but looked comfortable, now the onus is on the other batters to step up despite having club responsibilities, but issues regarding the scheduling don’t appear to be ending anytime soon, with the popularity of The Hundred not exactly helping either.

With government guidelines allowing supporters back into stadia at almost max capacity, you would assume fans would be flocking into Trent bridge, but with ticket sales paling in comparison to the glitz and glamour of The Hundred, it leaves you wondering if there is as much interest in Test cricket. For all England’s shortcomings, Root has put on some miraculous performances, especially since the absence of Stokes, but without the crowd to show support, it can be disheartening. With many heads turned by The Hundred there should certainly be some concern for the future of the Test game.