MANCHESTER: England coach Trevor Bayliss reckons Joe Root is well on the way to rivalling the likes of Sri Lanka star Kumar Sangakkara as one of the best number three batsmen he has seen.
Root has returned to the number three position during the ongoing Test series against Pakistan.
The Yorkshireman made 325 runs — almost the margin of a 330-run victory — as England levelled the four-match series at 1-1 with an emphatic win in the second Test at Old Trafford on Monday.
Root’s Test-best 254 was the cornerstone of England’s imposing first innings 589 for eight declared and he then added a quickfire 71 not out for good measure.
During his time as Sri Lanka coach, Bayliss worked with Sangakkara, whose stellar career saw the left-hander score more than 12,000 Test runs.
Bayliss, asked if Root, who has now risen to second in the world Test rankings on the back of his Old Trafford exploits, was among the best number three batsmen he has worked with, replied: “Definitely.
“He’s probably very close right now.
“He’s as good as any of those, I think — and thankfully for England’s sake, he’s pretty much at the start of his career.”
The 25-year-old Root could have at least another 10 years as an international cricketer and Australian coach Bayliss has no doubt he is the right man to bat in the pivotal first-wicket down slot.
“He’s hard to tie down — you bowl good balls to him, but he is still able to rotate the strike,” Bayliss said.
“He doesn’t face a lot of dot balls. He’s difficult to get out and he puts the bad ball away — fairly simple stuff.”
Bayliss added: “Now that he’s batting at number three, if we can get off to a good start, it allows those players who are maybe less experienced a little bit more latitude.
“(They can) come in at two or three (wickets down) for a lot of runs, rather than three or four for not many.
“It allows them the freedom to go out and play their games.”