Players like Root should be told to play natural game: AB de Villiers on Bazball

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS): Former South Africa cricketer AB de Villiers has weighed in on the struggles of star England batter Joe Root and the team's controversial 'Bazball' approach, sparking a debate about the team's tactics and Root's batting style.

Root, known for his classical approach to batting, has faced heavy scrutiny after scoring just 77 runs in six innings of the ongoing five-Test series against India. De Villiers, speaking on his YouTube channel, expressed his concerns about Root's departure from his natural game, attributing it to the team's aggressive 'Bazball' approach.

"When I played against him (Root), I felt he was one of the best Test batters I have ever played against. But that has changed and it's because of Bazball. I know it's a big statement but the ones that you find hardest to play against in Test match cricket are the ones who are hardest to get out. And now he is getting out on reverse sweeps and kind of blowing out of his norm. I don't like that,” said De Villiers.

The South African maestro, who admires Root's batting prowess, emphasized the importance of Root playing to his strengths and being the glue of the batting lineup. De Villiers suggested that players like Root should be encouraged to play their natural game and anchor the innings, while others take on the role of aggressors.

"Players like these (Root) should be told , 'Listen, you just go out and play your natural game. You're the glue of this batting line-up.' Let Ben Duckett or Ben Stokes play aggressively. Let Root bat long,” he added.

Root's dismissals, including a contentious reverse-sweep off Jasprit Bumrah, have raised questions about his approach at the crease. With Bumrah having dismissed Root nine times in Test cricket, the absence of the star speedster in the upcoming Ranchi Test presents an opportunity for Root to rediscover his form and silence his critics.

De Villiers also commented on England's 'Bazball' approach, acknowledging its entertainment value but cautioning against its potential pitfalls in Test cricket. He emphasized the need for adaptability and smart decision-making, particularly in the face of challenging situations.

"I like what Bazball represents, which is aggressive cricket, but I have said this that I want players to confront different situations and that's what Test cricket is all about. To predetermine a way you're going to play in Test cricket is very dangerous."

England's dramatic collapse in the Rajkot Test, squandering a commanding position, highlighted the risks associated with a predetermined aggressive approach. De Villiers urged England to prioritize playing the situation and batting sensibly to give themselves a chance of success in Test cricket.

"England just needed to bat normally to give themselves a chance to either draw or chase the total down in the fourth innings. They needed a big partnership and needed to play the situation, which unfortunately didn't happen in that innings."



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