Joe Root revealed a new cycling regime was behind the tour de force innings that marked his 100th Test appearance on Friday.
Although the England captain was struck by a bout of cramp in sweeping Ravichandran Ashwin for six late on the opening day in Chennai – and had his opposite number Virat Kohli to thank for stretching out the muscle – he had already celebrated his 20th Test hundred and credits being fitter than ever for his remarkable form at the start of 2021.
‘I can assure you this is not a plug, but I invested in a Peloton and have been doing a lot of work on that. I have followed the programme that (fitness coach) Phil Scott puts together for us too, trying to make my back a little bit more manageable and my legs and backside a little bit stronger,’ Root said.
‘A combination of those things has had a significant impact on my game, and I will continue to work at that side of improving my skill as a player.
‘It’s really important for all of us, with the amount of cricket we have to play, that we are in as best shape as we can be to give ourselves a better chance to be on the park as frequently as possible and able to perform at our absolute best.’
Video: Root ‘living the dream’ as he prepares for 100th Test (Daily Mail)
As Sportsmail reported last week, Root analysed all his Test dismissals prior to last month’s tour of Sri Lanka in a bid to rid himself of a tendency to get out immediately after reaching 50, and he has met the mental and physical challenge Asian conditions provide by becoming only the fifth England player to hit hundreds in three consecutive matches since Graham Gooch in 1990, the year he was born.
Three of them in Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell plus Gooch were among those who paid tribute to the Yorkshireman in a video montage played during a presentation ceremony at the team hotel on the eve of the contest.
In addition to words from his family, there were messages from squad members of his beloved Sheffield United, the club’s manager Chris Wilder, England football captain Harry Kane, golfer Lee Westwood and pop star Ed Sheeran, while vice-captain Ben Stokes – who first met Root aged 13 – made an emotional speech to the tour party about his lifelong friend’s contribution to English cricket.
‘The guys have made it very special for me and I really appreciate it. Ben in particular said some really kind words. He’s a fine human being and it was really nice of him to go out of his way to say some things that I will hold dear forever,’ Root reflected.
England finished the first day of a four-match series they must win handsomely to reach the final of the World Test Championship on 263-3 but things would have been even better but for Dom Sibley’s demise to Jasprit Bumrah, 13 runs shy of three figures, in the final over.
They will be wary, having scored 477 here four years ago – and lost by an innings. Although, Root offered hope of assistance for the bowlers later in the match in acknowledging ‘those foot holes are starting to wear quite quickly.’