England captain Joe Root's 'mental toughness' eases pressure, says Rob Key
Watch day four of the second Test between New Zealand and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 9pm on Sunday
Last Updated: 01/12/19 11:26am
Joe Root's mental resilience has lifted the pressure off the England captain after he scored an unbeaten century against New Zealand, according to Sky Sports pundit Rob Key.
Root's 114 not out at Hamilton was his first Test hundred since February - with criticism levelled at his captaincy following England's failure to regain the Ashes and then their innings defeat in the first Test against New Zealand.
But Key feels the England skipper has gone a long way towards dispelling the doubts with his patient knock at Seddon Park, having batted throughout the third day as his side closed on 269-5.
Listen to The Cricket Debate below or download here...
Speaking on The Cricket Debate, Key said: "Joe Root had a method and way of playing that was making him average 50 in Test cricket - he was in that big four of the best players in the world.
"Then after a few failures he started tinkering - he was going across, he was more static. But what he had to do was not practise lots, not change things, go back to what made him that player two or three years ago.
"The other thing is that mental toughness he's showed, because he was under a lot of pressure with his captaincy and everything like that. In four hours, he's almost got rid of that now, which is a good thing.
"A lot of it is him actually trying too hard, especially as a captain - you're so desperate to do well when you become captain. He's not the world's greatest tactician but everything becomes better for Joe if he scores runs.
"That's why (England coach) Chris Silverwood needs to be there to guide him on the other stuff - not just to do what he says but to guide him so he can focus on being a batsman, then everything's different for him."
Root added 177 for the third wicket with opener Rory Burns, who notched the second century of his Test career before being run out soon afterwards.
Key - who scored a double hundred against the West Indies but never again reached three figures in his 15 Test appearances - felt the left-hander's knock of 101 sent out an important message.
"You'd probably say the same thing as with Joe Root - it's a mindset adjustment. That's why Rory Burns, from a mental toughess point of view, is right up there," added Key.
"He's not one of those players that would find batting easy. Every time it's going to be a bit of a grind, and that does create some questions and doubts for you.
"But he's been able to silence them time and again on his own. In Test cricket people think it's about that first score - get that first hundred and you're away, but it's not.
"I know better than anyone, it's not about getting one score, it's about backing it up the next time and the next time, and doing it consistently. Everyone can have a day out now and again.
"Rory Burns has actually done pretty well - 50-odd in the last game and then a hundred here, so it's just reinforcing that."
Key joined host Charles Colvile and former England spinner Robert Croft as they chewed the fat on a number of other topics, including:
- Burns' run-out and what impact that dismissal could have on the rest of the match
- Whether too much technical analysis can actually be counter-productive when players are out of form
- Croft recalls a piece of advice from Bumble during his time as England coach - and reveals which players he used to watch for inspiration
- And the panel revisit yesterday's impassioned debate about county pitches, with Key delving into the archives to underline his point (again)!
Watch day four of the second Test between New Zealand and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 9pm on Sunday.