India vs England 2021: Joe Root And The Conversion Rate He Bosses in Test Cricket
Joe Root registered his second double hundred in five innings as his magnificent 218 off 377 deliveries took England to a total of 555 for 8 at close of play on Day 2 of the series opener against India in Chennai. Root is in scintillating form since Sri Lanka and has now recorded three 180-plus scores in his last five Test innings.
Often accused of not converting the 50s into 100s, Root has made another Conversion Rate – of turning 100s to 200s – his own and is amongst the best in the world in scoring the daddy hundreds.
The 50s To 100s Conversion Rate
Prior to the start of the Chennai Test, Root had registered a 50-plus score in an innings on 68 occasions – the most by any batsman in Test cricket after 99 Tests – an indicator of his phenomenal consistency in the format. He was followed by Sunil Gavaskar (66 fifties), Brian Lara (64) and Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar (63 each).
Root registered his 69th 50-plus score in Test cricket in the first innings in Chennai and went on to convert it into a hundred – it is this conversion rate (from 50 to 100) where the England batsman lags behind some other big names including the other three in the FAB 4 – Virat Kohli, Steven Smith and Kane Williamson.
Kohli has the best 50s to 100s conversion rate amongst the FAB 4. The Indian captain is the only batsman amongst them to have registered more hundreds than fifties – 27 hundreds and 23 fifties make for a conversion rate of 54%. He is followed by Smith (46.55%) and Williamson (42.86%). Root is a distant fourth with 20 hundreds and 49 fifties for a conversion rate of just 28.99%.
Thus, though Root has been very consistent in getting a fifty he has been guilty of throwing his wicket away and not converting it into the big hundreds as the other three batsmen.
But once he reaches the three-figure mark Root is a different man and his appetite for the big daddy hundred is just marginally second to Virat Kohli.
The 100s to 200s Conversion Rate
Root has registered 15 hundreds and 5 double hundreds for a Conversion Rate (from 100s to 200s) of 25%. He is marginally second to Kohli who has recorded 20 hundreds and 7 double tons for a Conversion Rate of 25.93%. But the Englishman is several notches ahead of both Smith and Williamson whose corresponding Conversion Rates are at 11.11% and 16.67%. Yet, Root is often criticized and almost forcefully included in the FAB 4.
Root also stands tall amongst England’s greatest when it comes to the Big Conversion Rate. Kevin Pietersen turned a hundred into a double hundred only 13% of the time, Alastair Cook – 15.2%, Graham Gooch – 10% and David Gower – 11.11%.
Three of Root’s last 4 hundreds have been double hundreds including the one against New Zealand in Hamilton in November, 2019.
The Dramatic Change in 50s to 100s conversion rate
Though overall he has some catching up to do, Root’s 50 to 100 conversion rate has been a dramatic improvement since his 125 against India at The Oval in September, 2018. From that innings onwards, Root has gone on to convert 7 of his last 15 50-plus scores into hundreds – that makes for a conversion rate of 50%. This means that Root had doubled his conversion rate from 25% in the period before to 50% post September 2018. Significantly, no batsman has had a better conversion rate than Root in this period. Williamson (6 hundreds out of 12 50-plus scores) is at par with Root with a conversion rate of 50% during this period.
Root’s Great Record in Asia
One of the main reasons for Root’s great improvement in conversion rate (from 50s to 100s) has been his terrific record in Asia – considered to be the toughest venue for batsmen from SENA countries. He has an aggregate of 1842 runs in 17 Tests in Asia. Amongst the 8 batsmen from England who have scored a minimum of 1000 runs in Asia, Root has the highest average of 59.41, ahead of luminaries like Pietersen, Cook and Gower.
In fact, it is the third-highest average (after Stephen Fleming and Michael Hussey) for any batsman from SENA in Asia ahead of legends like Kallis, AB, Amla, Hayden and Graeme Smith amongst others.
Root has recorded a 50-plus score in 7 successive Tests in India – a testimony of his ability against quality spin bowling and mental toughness and temperament to cope with the heat and humidity and difficult conditions in the country.
Prior to the start of the Sri Lanka series, Root was going through a relatively rough patch and had scored 541 runs in 15 innings at an average of 41.62 with no hundreds. He roared back into getting the big runs and led his team to a memorable series sweep in Sri Lanka with two brilliant 150-plus hundreds.
He has started with a double in India. Can he help England conquer the final frontier?