Dawid Malan hailed Joe Root as an authentic Test match great after the England captain treated his home crowd to his latest superb century in the third Test against India.
Root’s 121 at Headingley was his sixth ton in 11 appearances since the turn of the year, equalling an England record previously shared by Denis Compton and Michael Vaughan. The 30-year-old Yorkshireman has an aggregate of 1,398 runs in that time at an average of 69.90.
He has also scored three centuries in a row in the current five-match series, but while his previous efforts at Trent Bridge and Lord’s have led to a draw and a defeat, his side look firmly on course for a series-levelling victory this time.
- Third Test scorecard: England vs India
- Day two at Headingley – as it happened
At stumps on day two, England were 423-8, already 345 ahead of an India side who were bundled out for 78.
Malan, who made a classy 70 on his return to the side and kept Root company in a fine third-wicket stand of 139, was happy to rank him among the game’s elite band of batsmen.
“He is phenomenal isn’t he? He just scores runs all the time,” he said.
“You look at all the best players that have played – all the greats, if you want to put it that way – and as soon as you miss your line and your length, they hurt you. Joe is one of those.
“It’s great to watch and it’s great to have the best seat in the house when he does play as well as that. It’s the ease of what he does and the speed at which he does it.
“He just moves his feet so well and his position when he hits the ball is so good…he hits the ball so much later than most people. He always looks to score with intent, you know if you bowl a bad ball he just puts you away.”
While Root’s prolific output has become almost predictable, Malan’s impressive innings from number three was a less certain outcome. It is three years since he was cast out from the Test arena by national selector Ed Smith, who questioned his suitability for home conditions, and he has since carved out a niche as a white-ball specialist.
His knock here places him in a strong position to hold the shirt until the Ashes this winter but, when quizzed about his plans, Malan was quick to highlight the unforgiving nature of the England calendar in the Covid era.
Anyone selected for both the Twenty20 World Cup and the Ashes in Australia can expect to be away from early October to mid-January in potentially restrictive bubble environments. For now, Malan has signed up for the resumption of the Indian Premier League season with Punjab Kings and was reluctant to commit to being available at every turn.
England vs India
August 27, 2021, 10:15am
“The only guarantee we have at the moment is IPL – we don’t know if we’re going to the World Cup and we don’t know if we’re going to the Ashes, so it leaves us in quite a tough situation,” he said.
“Say you give up the IPL and you don’t get picked for either of the England squads, then you’ve given up the IPL. Or if you go to the IPL and then you get selected after you’ve gone to the IPL then you’re sat in the bubble for five and a half months. Hopefully we can get some answers and we can find some time to get a rest out of these bubbles.”
Haseeb Hameed has also returned to the England fold in this series and was also full of praise for Root after he took his own score to 68 before being dismissed before lunch on the second day.
“There’s so much you can learn from Rooty. Not only in this game but the way he’s been batting in this series has been of the highest class,” he said.
“The simplicity with which he plays is something that stands out for me. Obviously, he’s got so much time, which everyone looks for in a batsman. That’s from years and years of practice.
“The way he keeps things simple and the way he prepares and is so diligent with the way he goes about his business.
“Not only that, from a mental point of view, for him to turn up in every single innings and start and bat the way he has done, shows you that he’s very hungry as well – which is something every young player can look at.”
Hameed was pleased with his contribution at the top of the order following a three-year absence ahead of this series.
He added: “That first innings at Lord’s was a bit of a blur but I’m very happy to be able to contribute in this innings – in a more, kind of, natural position opening the batting. I think I felt more comfortable going into the innings.
“To go out there and to actually go in and get a 50-plus score was nice.
“It was important for us to just bat and not think too much about the wicket. It was important for me and Rory (Burns) to go in there and bat with an intent and that’s what we tried to do. Thankfully we put in a good partnership for the boys.
“I see it [the three-year absence] as part of the journey, something I had to experience to get to where I am now.
“You could say it was extreme, that three years I had in the middle but hopefully it’ll hold me in good stead going forward.”
Watch day three of the third Test between England and India from 10.15am, Friday on Sky Sports Cricket and Main Event.
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