The bitter disappointment of England’s group stage exit from the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup was bound to hit hard.

The melancholy in the camp during the tenure was understandably potent, but from then on, it was always going to be a two-way streak. In one storyline, England became overly preconscious, stuck by their ideology, and begin to hanker an outcome of good. In the other plot, the team actually toil over the previous shortcomings to achieve a better sequel. And thankfully, it has been the latter… Well, as of now.

The first entity the team espied was the idea of building the squad around the core of experienced campaigners, which includes the likes of Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root. Of course, the other members are equally salient, but the contribution of these men was always going to bear fruits.

And just as these men had their roles affixed, a certain Joe Root was tasked to anchor the innings, as others around him looked to bash the bowlers in every direction of the park. But Regardless of his task of being a chief operator, Root has flourished a big time at his No. 3 spot. Thus, to say the 28-year-old has been the one overriding constituent under Morgan’s captaincy since 2015 would be an understatement.

Ahead of the 2019 edition of the World Cup, Root registered figures of 40, 43, 36 and 84 against Pakistan and while the return was pretty decent, he believed that the result wasn’t really that suited his style of play, and that he should let the other boys do the dirty talking.

“Personally, I was probably a little bit too experimental and trying to play in a manner that didn’t suit myself or the team,” Root told The Guardian.

“It was actually a very good reminder going into the tournament that on occasions I should rein it in a bit and not get too giddy when guys like Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy and Jos Buttler are flying at the other end.”

But his overall figures, however, establish the fact that he is more than being just an anchor who lets the others do the work. Since the 2015 World Cup, only Virat Kohli (4406) and Rohit Sharma (3969) have scored more runs than him (3769).

Come the World Cup, the story was about to experience a mighty turnaround. A half-century in England’s tournament opener against South Africa was followed by a century in a losing cause against Pakistan. A lowly total in the subsequent fixture against Bangladesh was eventually covered by a recent unbeaten ton against the West Indies in Hampshire, which has now taken the English opener to the top of the top scorer’s charts (at the 2019 World Cup).

This victory against the West Indies was exceptional in several ways. For starters, he became only the second player to score a ton, pick two wickets and get two catches in the same game. The first one to do so was Aravinda de Silva, who scored 107 n.o., picked three for 42 and grabbed two catches against Australia in 1996.

Furthermore, he’s also the fourth English player to take two-plus wickets and score 50 plus runs while opening the batting in a Men’s World Cup game after Moeen Ali, Michael Vaughan and Ian Botham. This ton also made him the first England player to score three World Cup centuries, and only the second (English) to score two tons in a single edition after Kevin Pietersen (who did it in 2007).

Talk about being an anchor, well that’s just about it.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Adrian Dennis