Ben Stokes says Joe Root has a game-plan for every type of spin; all-rounder hails England’s positivity on a Chennai pitch offering assistance to India bowlers and feels his side have taken “big strides'” in how to bat in the subcontinent
Ben Stokes believes Joe Root is England’s greatest-ever player of spin bowling and says watching his in-form captain bat makes him feel “pretty rubbish”.
Root became the first player to score a double century in his 100th Test when he made 218 on day two against India in Chennai, taking his runs tally in Test cricket in 2021 to 644 in five innings in the subcontinent.
The 30-year-old – with whom Stokes (82 off 118 balls) bossed a fourth-wicket stand of 124 on a day on which the tourists closed on 555-8 – is now England’s third-highest run-scorer in Test cricket, having overtaken Alec Stewart during his second double hundred of the year.
On Root, who scored 186 and 228 in the 2-0 series win in Sri Lanka in January, Stokes told reporters: “He makes us all feel pretty rubbish with how easy he makes batting look.
“He is in phenomenal form. The way he dominates spin is incredible to watch. He has an answer and an option for everything that is thrown at him and it is a delight to watch at the moment.”
Speaking earlier to Channel 4, Stokes had said of Root: “I am not sure we have ever had an England player play spin so well, with such control, such ease. He is so consistent and it’s amazing to watch.”
Stokes played the aggressor in his stand with Root, smoking 10 fours and three sixes, and says England deserve credit for their willingness to attack on a Chennai pitch that, he insists, is offering assistance to bowlers.
The 29-year-old – back in the England side after being rested for the Sri Lanka series – added: “We didn’t just look to survive, we didn’t just look to eat into the overs and make India stay out there. We looked to be positive and as a batting unit as a whole, we are very happy.
“There has been spin, bounce, reverse swing – I just think we have played very well and deserve credit.
“It’s not been the easiest but we have given ourselves opportunities as batsmen to get in and score runs on a pitch that is offering for the bowlers.
“Balls have spat out of the rough [for the spinners] and Ishant Sharma bowled with reverse swing. We have taken some big strides as a batting group out in the subcontinent.
“That doesn’t give us the right to bowl India out twice as we hope to do. We know we still have a lot of hard work to do as a bowling unit.
“Sometimes out here 20 wickets is hard to come by. We have a big challenge ahead of us.
“I am fully fit to crack on [with the ball]. I am playing the role of third seamer, behind Jofra (Archer) and Jimmy (Anderson).
“My role might change throughout but that is something I am used to. It would be great if I didn’t have to do too much work with the ball but if called upon I will do what I need to do.
“I have to give credit to India, they keep toiling away, especially Ishant and Jasprit Bumrah. They have kept running in and running in and running in.
“We have to do the same. Sometimes out here it’s a game of patience and who can stay boring the longest.”