Take Root at Lord's

  • By: Dave Tickner
  • Last Updated: July 15 2014, 17:16 BST

Joe Root makes strong appeal in the England top-bat market for the second Test, says our cricket man Dave Tickner.

Joe Root: Has won the England top-bat market in three of his six Lord's Tests
Joe Root: Has won the England top-bat market in three of his six Lord's Tests

2pts Joe Root to be top England runscorer (1st inns) - two big first-innings hundreds already this summer, loves Lord's

After Trent Bridge served a predictable result in an unpredictable way on a truly appalling pitch, all eyes are on Lord's groundsman Mick Hunt and his offering this week.

If it's anything like the surface for the Test against Sri Lanka last month, those backing the draw at 6/4 will be in business.

Trent Bridge really was a curious affair. The pitch looked the likeliest winner from pretty early on the first morning, and so it proved. But both sides' vulnerabilities were sufficiently exposed at various stages to suggest another stalemate is not a foregone conclusion.

Yes, there were only three innings played in the five days; but a whole day's play was taken up by 10th-wicket partnerships. On any surface, a repeat of that seems unlikely.

Ifs and buts they may be, but the fact is that while both India and England eventually made the right sort of totals on this pitch, both put themselves in positions where they could have fallen way short and found themselves under pressure.

Put simply; if we could trust these teams the way we can trust the pitch, the draw would be a maximum bet.

As it is, the match prices look reasonable enough. These are batting-heavy sides with instinctively conservative captains playing on dead pitches. The draw is a worthy favourite, but we've seen enough to see how someone like Stuart Broad or Bhuvneshwar Kumar could wreak match-defining havoc in a session should the ball start doing something.

It's enough to put me off, but I certainly wouldn't look to dissuade anyone.

For me, the most interesting betting opportunity here comes in the top England batsman market, where the two market leaders are desperately weak.

Everyone knows Alastair Cook is struggling currently, having failed to reach 30 in any of his five Test innings this summer (incidentally, you can get 5/6 he scores under 32.5 in the first innings with William Hill, a mark he has failed to reach in 18 of 25 innings going back to the start of last summer's Ashes).

But Ian Bell's poor form is flying slightly under the radar. He hasn't scored a century since the fourth Ashes Test last summer.

The relative newcomers, by contrast, have all made runs. The man to side with here looks to be Joe Root.

After bumping up and down the order he seems to have found a home at number five. He has top-scored in the first innings of two of England's three Tests this summer with 200 not out and 154 not out.

And while he has only played three Tests at Lord's, his 512 runs have come at a three-figure average with scores of 180 and that unbeaten double century along the way. Both those were top-scoring efforts, as was the 71 he made against New Zealand last year to give him a 50% strike-rate from six innings at HQ.

Root is a curious batsman, whose technical flaws leave him vulnerable early but whose steely determination and concentration mean that once in he is devilishly difficult to shift.

Three of his four Test centuries have been 150-plus, two of them not out. When he gets runs, he gets big runs meaning that even if there's another centurion - every chance in these conditions against this attack - Root is still the man you'd back to top the pile.

There's plenty of 5/1 available for the Yorkshireman to continue his Lord's love affair, and that looks more than fair.

  • Posted at 1700 BST on 15/07/2014.