Joe Root should move up to No.3 for England

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It is amazing how a Test match can change people's opinions. Before the first Ashes Test in Cardiff, many were fearing and worrying about England's chances against the Australians. Now, there is supreme confidence that the home side can regain the urn after the humiliating whitewash down under in 2013/14.

Though the result was a superb one for England, it was the freedom and innovation with which the team played that pleased most. They showed intent, even from the treacherous situation of 43-3, and from that point, they made sure that the Australians did not take charge.

That was principally down to England's superstar, Joe Root, who took the game to the opposition and, after building solid recovery partnerships with Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes, guided England to an above-par first innings score of 430. 


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Root's seventh Test hundred, his second against Australia, along with 60 in the second innings, showed why so many people believe he will be the mainstay in England's batting lineup for many years to come. His immaculate technique, along with his hunger and desire to move the game forward suggests that there are plenty more hundreds around the corner.

Yet, as impressive as England and Root were, there is always room for improvement. That potential improvement is one that many have been discussing - move Root to number three. The change may not happen as long as England are winning in the short-term, but in the long term it is a move that will be essential.

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Root has batted in every position in the England top six. In the last Ashes series in 2013, he opened with captain Alastair Cook but was often found wanting by Ryan Harris and co, who pitched the ball up and therefore exposing Root's then back-foot technique. 

The 24 year old is a different player now. Still strong off the back-foot, Root has worked hard to make significant strides on the front-foot and now teams have struggled to find ways to get him out. His array of cover drives at Cardiff show just how much of a developed cricketer he has become. 

You could forgive England for being wary of moving Root to three after his struggles of the 2013/14 Ashes series, when he managed only one fifty in six innings in that position, resulting in him being dropped for the final match. 

Root's form since then has been nothing short of outstanding. He has scored 1,512 runs with five centuries an an average of over 85. Promoting him up the order would seem much less of a risk these days. 

The Yorkshireman typifies this new look England side. Granted, he is not an extravagant or explosive strokemaker like Ben Stokes or Jos Buttler, but instead his batting revolves around positivity and counter attacking, much like his Australian counterpart, Steve Smith. 

Root's style is no different to Ricky Ponting, who wanted to take the attack to the opposition and looked to score at every opportunity. Moving Root to three could mean him developing into a Ponting-esque role for England, which would likely give England better starts, rather than the sticky scenarios that the team often find themselves in when Root walks to the crease at number five.

McCullum input 

Brendon McCullum agrees. 'I’d actually move Root up two places to No 3,' said the New Zealand captain. 'I know he’s scoring runs at No 5, and I doubt they’ll change that. But I like to have my best player at first drop, just like New Zealand do with Kane Williamson, because they can dictate the game from there.'

Root moving up the order could well have potential benefits elsewhere. Allowing Gary Ballance to drop a couple of places to five would take him out of the firing line against the swinging ball. Ballance's back-foot technique could also be much more effective against an older ball and a potentially tiring attack.

His Yorkshire team mate Root's success at number three in the ODIs against McCullum's Black Caps, when he scored two centuries and a fifty in the five match series, showed how much he is suited to the position and there is no reason why he can not play in the same manner in the Test format. 

England's exciting new brand of cricket is fast making them a force again, and moving Root up to number three would be the final piece to a formidable jigsaw.

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England cricket
The Ashes
Joe Root

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