news

"He's a hell of a player," Joe Root lavishes praise on Babar Azam

Joe Root also told about illness of his fellow squad members

PHOTO: AFP

England batter Joe Root ruled out food poisoning and Covid-19 rumors despite reports that several touring party members became ill ahead of their first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi. Root told the press that the England players had caught a virus that had spread to others players in the team hotel.

Joe Root said he himself was feeling ill on Tuesday but woke up today feeling better, and he hopes his teammates who are ill can recover in time for the Rawalpindi match, which will also be England's first Test in Pakistan in 17 years.

ALSO READ: World Test championship final a target for Pakistan, says Babar Azam

Joe Root attended the captain's press conference today while Ben Stokes remained in the team hotel due to illness. Today England's optional training session at the Pindi Cricket Stadium drew only five players.

According to the news agency, England players who were infected were asked to remain at the team hotel while the tourists named their starting XI for the first Test on Thursday.

Root joked that members of the England management, including head coach Brendon McCullum, might be called up to England playing XI on Day 1 of the Rawalpindi Test, but added that the players will do everything in their strength to be fit for the World Test Championship series opener.

"Yeah, there is going to have to be Marcus Trescothick, Rob Key, and Brendon McCullum, our new top 3. As far as I am concerned, a few guys are not feeling 100 percent. And I didn't feel better yesterday; I woke up a lot better today. Hopefully, it's a 24-hours virus. I don't think it's food poisoning or Covid or anything like that," Root said on Wednesday.

"I think it's just one of those things that we have picked up as a group. We tried to make sure we prepared really well for this game, and sometimes, life throws these kinds of things at you, but we have to make sure how we have to be prepared for tomorrow.

"It's hard to say; I have not seen anyone this morning. I got straight into the bus. The guys will do everything they can; they worked hard in that respect. Time will tell, I guess," he added.

"It's a strain. Today is generally an optional session. A few of the guys wouldn't have come in, anyway. You can't do much of anything, anyways. Stay hydrated. Sometimes, you pick up a bug or a virus. It can spread around when you are all tied together at a hotel. We have done everything we can to try and mitigate it."

Meanwhile, Root has stated that he is unaware whether England will fly in players from home if the players who are ill do not recover in time for the first Test.

When asked if he was prepared to take over as captain if Ben Stokes was unable to recover, Root denied the idea.

Notably, Root resigned as England Test captain after the three lions lost the Ashes series in Australia and Test series against West Indies. Ben Stokes took over, and his partnership with coach Brendon McCullum resulted in England defeating India and South Africa in the home series earlier this year.

"I have stayed far away from that these days. Even though I am doing this (presser) today, this is where the buck stops; I am not doing anything else.

"I don't think so (captaincy chances), no, I don't think so. Hopefully, that is not even a conversation that we needed to entertain. Pope did it the other day, and I think he did a great job," Root said.

When asked about Joe Root's top spot in the ICC Test batter ranking and Babar Azam aiming to achieve that landmark, Root praises the Skipper and says that he's a hell of a player.

"Babar Azam is certainly one of the brilliant players. He is consistent across the three formats; he has done extremely well in Test cricket for a couple of years. The bowlers must play well to keep him quiet, and he is relatively younger than me. Few of the other players in the England squad, and I feel like the best is yet to come from him, but we gonna make sure that his best will never be against us in the next three games, but overall he is a hell of a player, and he is great to watch."

Schedule of Pakistan vs. England Test series

December 1-5 – First Test, Rawalpindi
December 9-13 – Second Test, Multan
December 17-21 – Third Test, Karachi

 

 

England batter Joe Root's press conference at the Pindi Cricket Stadium before the first Test.#PAKvENG | #UKSePK https://t.co/qlT3uibYxC

— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) November 30, 2022