Duckett defends Root dismissal: Reverse-scoop to slip the same as nicking off

England
Joe Root‘s dismissal, reverse-scooping Jasprit Bumrah straight to second slip to spark England’s collapse on the third morning in Rajkot, should be viewed no differently to him “playing a drive and nicking off”. That was the argument put forward by Ben Duckett, who defended his team-mate’s shot selection amid widespread criticism.
Root has played the reverse-scoop regularly in Tests since relinquishing the captaincy nearly two years ago and has largely been successful in doing so. His dismissal for 18 on Saturday was the second time he has been out playing the shot in that timeframe, one year after he fell in similar circumstances to Neil Wagner in New Zealand.

The choice of shot drew immediate criticism, not least from the veteran journalist Scyld Berry, who described it as “the worst, most stupid, shot in the history of England’s Test cricket”, writing in the Telegraph. “Root’s reverse-scoop at India’s most dangerous bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, wrecked England’s chances of winning this Test and this series,” Berry wrote.

Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “The skipper [Ben Stokes] doesn’t Bazball .. he plays the situation .. Joe is far too good to gift India such a cheap wicket 20 mins into a crucial day when they are down to 10 players .. Sport is about changing styles at the right time.”

But Duckett defended Root’s shot selection. “Rooty’s a freak: he does things a lot of us can’t do,” Duckett told TNT Sports. “In my eyes, that’s the same as playing a drive and nicking off to second slip. Rooty plays that shot so well. I’m sure those people weren’t saying that when he was hitting [Pat] Cummins for six in the summer.”

Speaking to the BBC, Duckett added: “I’m just gutted it didn’t go for four or six. I think he’s earned the right to do that. He has played that shot so well. I think it’s exactly the same as me playing a reverse-sweep and getting caught deep point.”

Nasser Hussain, another former England captain, told Sky Sports: “His dismissal sums up where we are with Bazball: it will thrill and it will frustrate in equal measure… The one thing Joe will look at is the timing of that shot. Ravi Ashwin wasn’t there – he was away for personal, family reasons – so they were down a bowler. [Ravindra] Jadeja is coming back from an injury.

“Bumrah is playing three Test matches in a row and there’s talk of him needing a rest. Bazball is about being attacking, but it’s also about soaking up pressure. If you speak to the management, it’s knowing when to attack and when to soak up pressure… I think Joe will look at it himself. That’s what great players do and he’ll come back. He’ll be absolutely fine.”

Duckett, whose 153 off 151 balls was the only innings of 50 or more by an England batter in their first innings, also claimed that India’s decision to send Kuldeep Yadav in at No. 5 shortly before the close on Saturday evening showed they are “wary” of England, despite their 322-run lead heading into the fourth day.

“I think even sending in a nightwatchman when you’re 330 ahead shows that they’re slightly wary of us,” Duckett said, when asked if England were realistically out of the game. “We’re going to continue the way that we play, and if we get two or three blokes in on that pitch, scoring quickly, you never know what can happen.”

Asked for a realistic target that England could chase, Duckett told the BBC: “The more the better. This team is all about doing special things and creating history. They can have as many as they want and we’ll go and get them.”

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