England vs India fifth Test: Gary Ballance praises Joe Root as England's standout star through the summer following latest salvage

Root dug deep to prevent England suffering another batting collapse

The Oval

Gary Ballance has hailed the efforts of Joe Root on a day when the two Yorkshire teammates helped put England in a commanding position in the fifth Test against India at The Oval.

England’s number three made a patient 64 in a third-wicket stand of 125 with Alastair Cook, meaning only three Englishmen have made more runs after their first seven Tests, although he was frustrated to squander a glorious opportunity to make his fourth hundred of the summer.

However a middle-order collapse threatened to undo much of the 24-year-old’s good work until Joe Root and Jos Buttler combined to truly take the game away from India in the eyes of Ballance and surely all but the most partisan of Indian supporters.

“We had a bit of a wobble, a bit of a collapse, which is not ideal, but earlier on in the summer it could have been an eight or nine wicket collapse,” said Ballance. “So it was great the way Rooty and Jos counterattacked at the end there and really put us in a strong position.

 

“Joe’s played very positively. He started quite slow, he was patient and got used to the pace of the wicket but then he was very positive and after that he looked to score. That’s what he’s done all summer.”

It has been an excellent summer for Ballance, although he conceded that on an increasingly flat pitch he perhaps missed a golden chance to bring up a century.

“I’m very disappointed to get out when I did, I thought I had a good chance to get a hundred there. But on a personal level I think the summer has gone very well. I got a few nice hundreds and a few decent fifties so I’m very, very happy with the way it’s gone and hopefully I can build on that for the rest of the season,” he added.

The decision, made at the start of the summer, that the 24-year-old would bat at number three, was seen by some as an odd one, but Ballance now feels he has gone some way towards answering his critics and filling the void left by Jonathan Trott.

“I hadn’t batted there much before but I’ve had a few goes this summer and I’ve been making scores and I feel quite good and happy there,” he said. “But Trotty’s shoes are massive to fill. He did so well there over five or six years, he scored huge runs and it’s going to be tough to fill his shoes, but hopefully I can look at what he did well and try to replicate that.”

From Peter Moores’ point-of-view, Ballance’s introduction to the side could scarcely have been more seamless, something the left-hander was moved to credit his fellow county mate Root for.

“I saw how he started his career and he got some good scores early on and he gave me loads of advice when I came into the team and over the summer,” said Ballance. “To watch how he’s handled himself after a tough tour in Australia and come back this summer and scored big, big runs and when the team need him, that just shows a quality player and it’s good for a new guy coming in to see that.”

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