History for Joe Root and victory for England as former captain plays one of his greatest innings

Joe Root scores the first hundred innings in the fourth of his Test career as he becomes 14th man in 10,000 Test runs and drags England to just a second win in 18 games; now free of the pressures of the captaincy, Root says he has a “great opportunity” to “give back” to new captain Ben Stokes

Twenty three.

That was the number of runs Joe Root needed at Lord’s on Sunday to pass his twenty-sixth Test hundred, and the first in the fourth innings, as well as 10,000 runs in the five-day format.

They duly arrived but, to Root, the number 61 was of far greater importance as it was the runs required for England to claim a first Test victory in 10 attempts and only a second in 18.

They duly arrived too, with Root fittingly there at the end, undefeated at 115 having hit the match safety limit. The Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum era is up and running on a high note.

It was a morning of personal history when Root became the youngest player in 10,000 test races, equaling former teammate Sir Alastair Cook in achieving the feat at 31 years and 157 days, but it was a team win by far. expected that gave him a much sweeter feeling.

“People make a lot of the runs I scored,” said Root, referring to a golden period in his career that has seen him plunder 2,192 runs in his last 21 tests, taking nine tons at an average of 56. “But it’s never nice when you’re losing test matches, you’d give up all those runs to win.

“When you’re high-fiveing ​​the rest of the group, and you can see the genuine joy and euphoria on their faces, that’s what I’ve missed the most, I guess, over the last year and a bit.”

Root is always thinking of the team, always thinking of other people, full stop.

In the immediate aftermath of England’s victory at Lord’s, he made sure to say that the thrilling test per minute was a fitting tribute to the “wonderful boy and player” Shane Warne: “It was played in a way that Shane would have loved,” he said. Root from a game that included 17 wickets on day one, a two-day finish that looked eminently possible, and excellent counterattacks from both sides.

He also expressed satisfaction that England had been victorious in 15 overs on day four, they did so in 13.5, so fans inside the stadium could get a full refund.

Root showed a cheerful, smiling figure at Lord’s, now free from the burden of captaincy.

He was an unenviable burden during the Covid-19 pandemic, as he was tasked with trying to keep his squad sane while dealing with the tight restrictions of life in the bubble.

He was often deprived of his best players by rest and rotation and, in Stokes’ case, a finger injury and time spent away from the game prioritizing his mental well-being.

He also faced pressure to almost single-handedly shore up England’s fragile batting, clearly highlighted by the fact that his tally of 1,708 Test runs in 2021 was 1,178 more than his closest team-mate Rory Burns. Of England’s total Test races in 2021, Root took almost 28 per cent.

“It had become a very unhealthy relationship, me and the captaincy,” Root said. “It had started to affect my health. I couldn’t put it down anymore. I was coming home.”

“It wasn’t fair to my family, people close to me or me. As soon as I made the decision [to step down] I knew it was the right thing to do. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me.”

Speaking about Root’s appointment, new England men’s cricket director Rob Key said: “Finding out a little more about the last two years, what Joe has done has been incredible.

“Playing on a team that has been struggling and going through a pandemic, being a captain and having to do so much and score the runs that he has scored…it’s one of the great sporting achievements.”

As for Root’s best tackles, his hundred against New Zealand this week should enter the conversation.

Sure, there have been bigger hits, including five double centuries and the best of 254, but in terms of timing and importance, this falls short.

England were 32-2 when they walked to the crease in their chase for 277 and then 69-4 eight overs later, but managed to meld freshness and class during partnerships with Stokes and then Foakes to drag their team into what sky sports Nasser Hussain called a “vital” victory.

Despite his remarkable career of late, Root has not been the man to ultimately pull off difficult or unlikely victories.

He looked like he could be the man at Headingley in 2019, but then he was fired early on the final day by Australian spinner Nathan Lyon, leaving Stokes to pull off a heist on Ashes.

Leave a Comment