Can Joe Root maintain his momentum after passing 30?

Rory Dollard, PA
·2-min read

England’s Test captain Joe Root will be hoping to break the pattern set by his most recent predecessors after celebrating his landmark 30th birthday on Wednesday.

The three long-term Test skippers appointed since 2000 – Michael Vaughan, Sir Andrew Strauss and Sir Alastair Cook – each saw their career batting average decline and their flow of centuries slow after entering their fourth decade.

Root currently boasts a better average than all three at the same age with 47.99 and has already played comfortably more international cricket than either Strauss or Vaughan with 97 Test caps under his belt.

In terms of runs scored his mark of 7,823 is behind Cook’s comparative tally of 8,423 but in 12 fewer matches. At this stage there is no reason to believe Root cannot surpass Cook’s final mark of 12,472, the England record, but history suggests things could get tough as time advances.

Cook’s own average dropped from 46.02 to 45.35 after his 30th birthday and he went from posting hundreds every 4.36 Tests to every 6.50 Tests.

Strauss had made just 36 appearances before turning 30 and although his standing in the game rocketed, the numbers dipped. His average went from 43.09 to 40.91 and having scored his first 10 hundreds at a rate of one every 3.60 outings, his next 11 occupied 64 Tests (one every 5.82).

Vaughan’s most momentous achievement, reclaiming the Ashes in 2005, came well into his 31st year but by then his peak with the bat was already in the past, with his output dramatically waning during his last 32 matches.

Sir Alastair Cook (left) and Sir Andrew Strauss (right) both saw their numbers dip after their 30th birthdays.
Sir Alastair Cook (left) and Sir Andrew Strauss (right) both saw their numbers dip after their 30th birthdays (Nick Potts/PA)

Joe Root

Tests: 97
Runs: 7,823 runs
Average: 47.99
Centuries: 17 (one every 5.70 Tests)

Sir Alastair Cook

Tests: 161
Runs: 12,472
Average: 45.35 (46.02 before 30, 44.01 after 30).
Centuries: 33 – 25 before 30 (one every 4.36 Tests), 8 after 30 (one every 6.50 Tests).

Sir Andrew Strauss

Tests: 100
Runs: 7,037
Average: 40.91 (43.09 before 30, 39.55 after 30).
Centuries: 21 – 10 before 30 (one every 3.6 Tests), 11 after 30 (one every 5.82 Tests).

Michael Vaughan

Tests: 82
Runs: 5,719
Average: 41.44 (45.50 before 30, 35.30 after 30).
Centuries: 18 – 13 before 30 (one every 3.84 Tests), 5 after 30 (one every 6.4 Tests).