Second-innings knock against New Zealand gave Root 'a kick up the backside'

By Sports Desk February 20, 2023

Joe Root is still trying to find his role within Ben Stokes' England set up but believes his second-innings knock against New Zealand is a good starting point.

Root gave up the Test captaincy last year and England have thrived under Stokes and new coach Brendon McCullum, winning 10 of 11 matches after a 267-run victory over the Black Caps last week.

Former skipper Root enjoyed a brilliant 18 months from the start of 2021 until the middle of last year, though the 32-year-old's form has since dropped off.

His 57 at the Bay Oval was his second-highest score since August, after a haul of 73 against Pakistan in December, and Root is confident he can rekindle his best form.

"I've not performed for a little while, so I had the bit between my teeth in the second innings," said Root ahead of the second Test at Basin Reserve in Wellington.

"It's given me a little sharpener, a kick up the backside, that this is how I need to play my cricket, how I can be consistently useful in this group.

"There was the initial relief of coming out of the captaincy and now I'm just trying to find out what my role is within this team.

"I've maybe got a bit caught up in it, but I'm not too far away from what's given me success.

"I didn't feel I tried to force it in the second innings and when I'm playing well that's one of my strengths: I can score freely and I can rotate the strike.

"I felt like I found a really good tempo in how I wanted to bat."

Root's trademark reverse-scoop saw him come unstuck in the first innings at the Bay Oval, though that setback will not stop him from playing bravely when the opportunity presents itself.

He added: "You take calculated risks. I've got where I've got to by trusting my gut. It just didn't quite work out.

"It's not going to stop me playing it. It's now part of my Test game and I'll continue to utilise it when it's the right time."

England have won their last four men's Tests against New Zealand, after going winless across their seven meetings prior in the format.

The last time they enjoyed a longer winning run against the Black Caps was a six-match span from February 1963 to July 1965.

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