NASSER HUSSAIN: Root fits perfectly into my top five English batsman

NASSER HUSSAIN: Alongside the likes of Sir Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root fits perfectly into my top five English Test batsman

  • Joe Root is already one of Nasser Hussain’s greatest English batsman
  • The England captain will win his 100th cap when his side face India on Friday
  • Hussain has picked his top five English batsman that he has seen play 

Joe Root is already in the top five English batsmen I have seen over the last 40 years and he has the ability and opportunity to go on to become the greatest of them all.

There were people before Sri Lanka doubting whether he was still in the Fab Four of Test batsmen with Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Steve Smith. But those two big hundreds in Galle were a reminder of just how good Joe is.

As long as he stays fit, and with the number of Tests England play these days, Root has every chance of going past Sir Alastair Cook’s runscoring record.

Joe Root (above) is among former England captain Nasser Hussain’s top five English batsman

The closer Root gets to Cook’s tally of 12,472 runs – and he is just over four thousand runs and 62 Tests behind him as he approaches his 100th Test – the more it will be talked about, but to me Joe doesn’t have to go past Alastair to be considered the greatest.

Root will just want to be the best he can be and, because he’s so unselfish, he will just want to win games for England for the rest of his career.

Where is he in my top five?

Well, I don’t want to rate my five in any particular order because it’s so hard to compare eras, but when I thought about this it worked out perfectly for them to bat in their preferred positions.

Graham Gooch worked hard at his game and was very effective against fast bowling and spin

Let’s start with Graham Gooch taking first strike. I played with Graham at Essex and idolised him, not only for his ability but for his work ethic.

Gooch was a very talented man and was one of the great players of fast bowling and spin. But on top of that, behind the scenes, he worked harder than anyone.

I remember him driving back after that great knock against West Indies for England at Headingley in 1991 and going straight in the Essex nets the next day.

Alastair Cook is England’s record run scoring holder with a total of 12,472 in his Test career

My all-Essex opening pair is completed by Cook, who I was fortunate enough to play with briefly at the start of his career. He was a man who was always able to grind out scores and for mental toughness and strength there has simply been nobody to beat him.

Cook would admit himself that he only had three or four shots against spin and he had areas he was vulnerable to, like the ball full and straight. But with those three or four shots he became one of England’s finest batsmen against spin and his record on the subcontinent in particular was phenomenal.

Cook is the man you would choose to bat for your life.

Hussain admits David Gower was his childhood hero and puts him to bat third in his top five

At three I’m going for my childhood hero David Gower.

He was as aesthetically pleasing as it is possible to be as a batsman. I used to watch him time it through extra cover with absolute grace and was in awe of his ability.

I remember playing against him at Leicester early on in my career and he came out wearing different-coloured socks and just leant on one that whizzed past me at cover and hit the boundary boards barely before I could move.

Pietersen’s flamboyant quick scoring threat makes him one of England’s most memorable stars

Joe is at four and then comes Kevin Pietersen in his favoured No 5 spot.

English cricket had never seen a batsman like him, the way he took on bowlers like Shane Warne, Murali and Dale Steyn.

KP never feared anyone and some of the great innings he played – at the Oval against Australia in 2005, and India in Mumbai, South Africa at Headingley and Sri Lanka in Colombo, all in 2012 – were breathtaking.

Kevin was incredibly watchable and there was always a story. There was never a dull innings nor a dull moment with Pietersen!

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