Since the start of the year, Joe Root’s remarkable record as a batsman has seen him score five centuries, including two mammoth scores against India, both home and away. While captaincy has in the past bogged down several batsmen, Mike Atherton believes that the English skipper isn’t burdened by the weight of the captaincy. On the back of Root’s 180, Atherton cited how his knock came at a time when the hosts were reduced to two down in the space of two deliveries.
"The lovely thing is how he doesn't seem burdened at all by the weight of captaincy and expectation at the moment. Think of the context of this innings - he came in on a hat-trick ball when India had just got two in two," Atherton told Sky Sports.
"He's the captain who put India into bat and they've put on 127 for the first wicket and made 364 - not a huge score but certainly more than you'd want when you put a side in. Those kind of things impact on you."
Atherton said Root has been able to brilliantly compartmentalise his two duties -- as a captain and as a batsman.
"He's Joe Root the batsman, not Joe Root the captain burdened by expectation and pressure and he's playing with great freedom."
Atherton also hailed Root’s form, calling it a reward for the incredible work that the Yorkshire batsman had done during the lockdown.
"I think this is a reward for some incredible work he did in lockdown. It came at a time when he was 29 and had already had a fantastic career," Atherton added.
"But it just gave him an opportunity to rest, where he's said 'I've got the second half of my career to come and I can go from being a very, very fine player to one of the all-time greats'," he added.
The former England captain-turned-cricket writer said the tweaks Root made in his techniques has resulted in a "golden run of form."
"He's made a slight technical adjustment now, with that back leg going straight back. That made him less vulnerable to the lbw when the ball is straight. He showed all his great skill on the dust bowls in Asia and now he's got his very best game together in more seam-friendly conditions here at home."
Root took England from a position of weakness to strength with the first innings total of 391 after India scored 364 in their first essay.
(With inputs from PTI)