This week our key battle is between England’s run machine Joe Root and Yasir Shah who has established himself as the World’s best wrist-spinner.
Yasir Shah – World’s best wrist-spinner
It is in spin bowling that Pakistan are distinctly superior to England. In Yasir Shah the tourists have the world’s finest wrist-spinner. He has taken 76 wickets in his 12 Tests – a sensational rate which, if theoretically sustained, would give him more wickets per Test than any other bowler of the last hundred years. He is currently ranked fourth in the latest MRF Tyres ICC Test Bowling Rankings and will no doubt be a real threat this summer against England.
Yasir made his debut against Australia in 2014 in a two-match Test series, spinning his way to 12 wickets in two matches at an average of just over 17, as Pakistan whitewashed Australia 2-0.
He has won a horde of admirers including Shane Warne, who praised his “energy and shape on the ball, also his over spinner and patience”, and proclaimed he would finish with more than 200 Test wickets. Just over seven months later since Warne’s comments, Yasir was one-quarter of his way to fulfilling Warne’s prediction. He became the quickest Pakistan bowler to 50 Test wickets, getting there in nine matches, while inspiring his side to a 2-1 series win in Sri Lanka with 24 wickets at 19.33.
Yasir Shah impressed against Somerset in the recent warm-up game for the England Test Series. In his first first-class appearance for more than six months, he delivered 32 well-controlled overs and claimed four wickets. He has adapted well to English conditions and will be full of confidence going into this Test Series.
Joe Root – England’s run machine
Root has played 42 Test Matches and scored 3,493 runs for his country with an average of 52.92. His highest score is 200 not out which he scored against Sri Lanka in 2014 at Lord’s. Root currently sits fourth in the MRF Tyres Test Batting Rankings.
His full potential poured forth in 2015 when he made 1385 Test runs in the year, second only to Australia’s Steven Smith and vied with Smith at the top of the ICC Test rankings. Only Michael Vaughan had made more runs in a calendar year for England; nobody had matched his 2228 runs across all three forms of the game. Ashes hundreds at Cardiff and Nottingham helped England to victories as he guided his nation to victory over the Aussies in the Ashes Test Series.
He’s got great balance. He is really focussed, he challenges himself in practise, always trying to learn more about his game.Mark Ramprakash, England Coach
Root’s Test debut for England in Nagpur in 2012 highlighted the qualities which had attracted coaches from an early age. He began with England’s sixth-longest debut innings in terms of balls faced, 73 from 229 balls as he displayed the patience and skill in the very first England innings. His rise continued with a maiden Test hundred in his home ground, Headingley, against New Zealand in 2013 followed by a maiden Ashes century at Lord’s having been promoted to open at the beginning of the series.
He was voted Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2014, England’s Test Cricketer of the year in 2015 and England’s Limited-Overs Cricketer of the year in 2015. Root has already hit 9 centuries and 20 half-centuries and his ice-cool demeanour and steely determination has already seen him being zeroed in as future England captain.
See the world’s best at Edgbaston
England take on Pakistan at Edgbaston on Wednesday 3 – Sunday 7 August and you can see Joe Root go up against Yasir Shah in what will be an interesting battle. Tickets are priced from just £6 for Under 16’s and £31 for Adults and can be purchased by clicking here or calling 0844 847 1902.