After England had beaten South Africa in the first Test, several pundits remarked that in a weird way Alastair Cook might be quite happy that the win had been achieved without any major contribution from either himself or Joe Root.
Root made 97 runs. In a relatively low-scoring game by modern standards, that’s surely more than just chipping in, yet we’re sure at least one person even went so far as to use the word ‘failed’.
As we’ve mentioned before, these days Joe Root is just context. His runs are as worthy of remark as the ground in which the Test is played. They’re both undeniably there, but they’re unalterable, so what is there to say?
What’s newsworthy is that other batsmen performed well. A couple of months ago, we said that England’s batting seemed about as well-balanced as a pissed-up baby giraffe trying to moonwalk across a tightrope. On recent evidence, it’s sobering up.