Ashes cricket: England’s Joe Root tops ICC batting rankings

Joe Root celebrates England's Ashes victory
Joe Root celebrates England's Ashes victory

Joe Root is on top of the world for the first time – but he admits it was the misery of 2013/14 that drove his determination in England’s Ashes series victory this summer.

Root’s two centuries were cornerstones of victories in Cardiff and then Nottingham, where England regained the urn after their 5-0 whitewash in Australia two winters ago.

There was an extra accolade for England’s middle-order linchpin too when the latest International Cricket Council rankings revealed he has deposed Australia’s Steve Smith as the world’s number one Test batsman.

His motivation throughout, though, has dwelt in those deeply uncomfortable memories not just of England’s crushing defeat down under but his part in it.

Root arrived in Australia in October 2013 as England’s rising star, expected to continue as captain Alastair Cook’s partner at the top of the order.

By the final Test, he was dropped after a run of poor form – having from the outset been shunted down the list in favour of Michael Carberry.

The 24-year-old Yorkshireman has found a new place for his country, first at number five and now four – and as Cook’s vice-captain too, is seen by many as the foundation on which England will build their team for years to come.

His 2015 Ashes average stands at 73.83 after four Tests, is almost 35 an innings ahead of the nearest Englishman beneath him and almost 30 more than Smith’s too - despite the Australian’s double-century at Lord’s.

It is a world away from his 192 in eight innings before making way for Gary Ballance in Sydney 19 months ago – an experience Root can still never forget.

Recalling it again in the glow of England’s series-clinching innings victory at Trent Bridge, he said: “I can’t speak for other people, but personally that was the inspiration.

“Knowing what we went through there – all that hurt and pain, all the stuff we’ve had to overcome since then - I think the way we have handled ourselves has been brilliant, and it’s shown by the performances we’ve put in on the field.”