‘Sloppy Joe’: Root Outfoxed by Teenage Left-arm Spinner in England Nets

Left-arm spinner coming over the wicket, the ball is flighted, slower through the air, Joe Root lunges forward for a defensive shot, but he is short of reaching the pitch of the delivery and the ball turns away, whizzing past the bat to rattle the top of off stump.

A visibly frustrated Root looks back and then towards the pitch.

How did he miss it?

This could very well be a Ravindra Jadeja or an Axar Patel delivery come the first India vs England Test in Hyderabad, rather the probability of this happening in any of the five Tests is quite high.

But this happened today; during England’s second practice session ahead of the series opener on the practice pitches of the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal two days removed from match day.

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And the left-arm bowler?

Well, V Yashveer, an U-17 player from Hyderabad – one of the many net bowlers England have at their disposal for the practice sessions.

The moment Yashveer’s delivery hit the top of off stump, the youngster had his arms up in the air, looking upwards. It was a moment of pure satisfaction. He had just cleaned up one of the greatest batters of his generation with a peach of a delivery that he could be proud of.

Hailing from Amberpet, Hyderabad, this 17-year-old from Bhavan Aurobindo Junior College now has a story he can tell over and over again, and probably gloat a bit, for good measure.

“It was a flighted delivery, he [Root] had asked me to flight the ball,” Yashveer told CricketNext when asked about how he outfoxed Root.

“It felt good that I could get him out”, added the youngster, who played in the Vijay Merchant Trophy this season claiming 20 wickets from games.

On being asked if had he modelled his action on Jadeja, he denied it, but the strut to the crease, short arm load-up and quick arm action looked eerily similar to the Saurashtra allrounder.

And this was not the only instance the left-arm spinner got the better of the former England skipper.

Root, in a mood to sweep, attempted the shot quite a few times against Yashaswi and the other net bowler – a right-arm off-spinner. And on one such occasion, he mistimed it with the ball popping to where a forward short leg would be stationed in a match.

Root let out a big grunt, much to the surprise of Tom Hartley – the rookie left-arm spinner in the England squad, who was batting at the adjacent square.

Root batted for roughly an hour with a mix of the two net bowlers – the left-arm and the offie, soon to be joined by James Anderson and another tweaker from the England setup.

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Yashveer bowled a total of ten overs to Root and the England batter was proactive in telling what he wanted the youngster to bowl. He swept the good length deliveries with aplomb and rocked back when the length was short, but those two deliveries – the top edge and then bowled would rankle Root.

After all the last time Root was here in India, he was dismissed by Axar Patel three times during the 2021 series, while Jadeja had in number during the 2016 series, claiming him three times then. And against left-arm spinners Root averages 41.11, much lower than his averages against off-spinners and left-arm pace.

Earlier, Jonny Bairstow and the top-order had their hit out in the morning session and there was another net bowler who knocked over the Englishman.

Going by the accounts of the net bowlers, while most of the England top-order including Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope were a bit defensive in their approach, Bairstow was going all guns blazing.

“Bazball chal raha tha uska”, quipped one of the net bowlers later, speaking to CricketNext.

Bazball is the way forward: Wood

And Bazball is the approach England won’t deviate from. “I don’t think that will be defensive if I am being honest,” England pacer Mark Wood would later tell the media during the press conference.

“I think we’ll still love to take the game on, we’ll take the positive option. I think at times it would be smart though, you know, for example, if India bowl well, it might be a chance to just, you know, let’s consolidate sit in and then when the chance comes to put the pressure back on, that’s when we put the pressure back on. So, it’s not just about going home all the time. It’s about soaking up that pressure when needed. Try and create a bit of consistency on the field and then when it’s time to attack again, attack all out and that’s the same with Bazball”.

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