Joe Root struggles for best form but Jos Buttler impresses again in Big Bash League
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 09/01/19 3:22pm
After seven matches, Jos Buttler and Joe Root’s time in the Big Bash League has come to an end but this was not the grand finale they were hoping for.
Rain brought proceedings to an end less than six overs into the second innings at Spotless Stadium, leaving their Sydney Thunder side to ponder a 15-run (DLS) defeat to Brisbane Heat.
In the 5.3 overs that Thunder did bat, Buttler was dismissed lbw for five by James Pattinson while Root's innings consisted off three balls stood at the non-striker's end before the heavens opened.
If the game proved to be something of a damp squib, it was largely in fitting with Root's first stint in a franchise T20 league as a whole.
The England Test captain has played precious little T20 cricket in the three years since Eoin Morgan's side reached the World T20 final in India, often finding himself rested for games in the shortest format as England prioritised ODIs ahead of this year's World Cup.
Root has attempted to remedy that in the past year or so, most notably by putting himself forward for the IPL last year without success, but if his BBL08 stint with Thunder was the chance to show that he remains a world-class performer in T20s, it did not go to plan.
It is not that Root's spell in Australia has been disastrous, certainly not by the standards of most players, but instead that the most remarkable thing about it is how unremarkable it has been.
Scores of 18, 9, 17, 18, 5, 26 and 0no undoubtedly fall below the expectations of both Root and Thunder prior to the tournament and his average of 15.5 is little more than half his career average in T20s but the overriding frustration will be the failure to convert starts.
Part of that is perhaps down to Root position at No 4, meaning he was rarely batting during the powerplay. Root has never been a power hitter so getting him in early when the field is up and his ability to find the gaps in the field can be best utilised, allowing him to get into his stride before the field spreads, may have been more beneficial to him and Thunder.
It was not to be, though, and Root will be aiming to find his best form when he returns to red-ball cricket with England in the Caribbean later this month.
The challenge for Buttler, meanwhile, will be to maintain a fine run of form that has continued for the past year across all three formats.
Opening the batting for Thunder, he made a steady start by hitting 20 in his first game before exploding into life with three half-centuries in his next four innings and a top-score of 89, meaning that despite scores of just 18 and 5 in his last two matches, he departs as the leading run-scorer in BBL08.
Thunder have only qualified for the BBL semi-finals once in the competition's history, in 2015-16 when they went on to win it, but as things stand they are outside the top four on net run rate alone. Without Buttler though, their battle to progress to the knockout stage seems far more daunting.
But while Thunder fans will rue his, and to a lesser extent Root's, departure, with just one tour to go before an enormous summer of cricket back at home, England supporters will be thrilled to see both their captain and his deputy back in international action against the Windies.
Watch the ICC Cricket World Cup, the Ashes and the Women's Ashes live on Sky Sports Cricket in 2019! Before then watch every ball of England's Test and ODI series against Windies, starting with the first Test on Wednesday, January 23.