England’s Joe Root, a part of the ‘Fab Four’, has claimed that Smith, Kohli and Williamson are three of the greatest players to have existed and that he wouldn’t put himself in the same bracket as the three. Root revealed that he tries to pick attributes from each of the three aforementioned greats.
Touted by the late, legendary Martin Crowe in 2014 as the ‘Fab Four’, the quartet of Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root have dominated world cricket for a good part of five years. Gifted, all-round batsmen who are incidentally also the fulcrum of their respective country’s batting units, Kohli, Smith, Williamson and Root have all broken never-seen-before grounds in international cricket that has seen them immortalize their names as ‘all time greats’ of their respective countries, if not the entire sport.
But of late, however, there has been reluctance from experts across the world to consider Joe Root in the same level as the other three, due to the England skipper’s withering form. Across his last 20 Test matches, Root has averaged just over 38, scoring just two tons in the process, and this tendency to often ‘disappoint’ has seen people cast doubts over the 29-year-old’s quality.
When questioned about his claim to being a part of the ‘Fab Four’ in The Analyst's Virtual Cricket Club podcast, Root played down his own hype and claimed that he wouldn’t put himself in the same bracket as the other three who he termed as ‘three of the greatest players the game has seen’.
"I try not to measure myself against other players. But I do watch a lot of how they go about constructing different types of innings across the three formats. You're looking at three of the greatest players the game has seen. They're three brilliant people to watch play and learn from. I'm not sure I'd put myself in their bracket, to be honest,” Root was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo.
Boasting an average of 47, 50 and 35 in Tests, ODIs and T20Is respectively, Root is one of the more dynamic batsmen in world cricket and his adaptability, both in terms of mindset and stroke-making, has seen him be an integral part of England across formats. Root revealed that he often looks at the likes of Kohli, Williamson and Smith and observes and admires the traits that make them who they are.
"I look at how late Kane plays the ball, how still and correct he is. How, under pressure, he finds a way to trust his defence on any given surface. That's a great quality to have.
"You look at Smith and at times he's just awful to watch. It's horrible on the eye. But you'd pay to have him in your team. He's a fantastic run-scorer. The way he thinks about the game and manages passages of play is exceptional. He makes bowlers bowl where he wants them to and his self-confidence you can see by the way he leaves the ball and some of his idiosyncrasies. He's always trying to find a way to get on top of the opposition. His hunger for big, big scores is fantastic.
"Virat is probably the most complete player out of the three of them across formats. His ability to chase things down in the limited-overs format and to pace it as well as he does as often as he does and be not out at the end is extraordinary. He's got a very good all-round game but you wouldn't say he's weaker against spin or pace,” Root said of the other members of the Fab Four.
Root is not the only generational talent to have come out of England in the last decade, as Jos Buttler, widely regarded as the greatest English white-ball cricketer in history, has also left his imprint in the sport. The right-hander, this season, also seemed to finally have cracked the code for Test cricket, playing not one but two match-defining knocks during the summer that was filled with drama. Root noted Buttler was the most complete white-ball player in English cricket history and reckoned the 30-year-old, who he felt was similar to AB de Villiers, might have finally worked out his red-ball game.
“Jos has been the most complete white-ball batsman we've had ever. The way he can play a number of different scenarios. He can just demoralise attacks and very quickly swing games massively in your favour.
"I think he's a phenomenal player and I still don't think we've seen the best of him yet. Hopefully this summer in Test cricket can unlock doors for him. I saw a piece about AB de Villiers and he said it took him 50 Tests to work out his Test game. I think it's very similar to Jos, to be honest."