Joe Root scores the first fourth-innings hundred of his Test career as he becomes 14th man to 10,000 Test runs and drags England to just a second victory in 18 games; now free from the pressures of captaincy, Root says he has “great opportunity” to “give back” to new skipper Ben Stokes
By David Ruse
Last Updated: 05/06/22 6:42pm
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Highlights from day four of the first LV= Insurance Test as Joe Root’s hundred steered England to victory over New Zealand
That was the number of runs Joe Root needed at Lord’s on Sunday to rubberstamp a 26th Test hundred – and first in the fourth innings – as well as 10,000 career runs in the five-day format.
They duly came but, for Root, the number 61 was of far greater importance, as that was the runs required for England to claim a first Test win in 10 attempts and just a second in 18.
- Joe Root hundred guides England to victory over New Zealand
- Scorecard: England vs New Zealand, first Test
- Joe Root: England captaincy had become ‘unhealthy’
They duly came, too, with Root fittingly there at the end, unbeaten on 115 having struck the match-securing boundary. The Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum era up and running on a high note.
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Check out the best of Root’s 26th Test century, as he passed 10,000 runs in the format and clinched England’s win at Lord’s
It was a morning of personal history as Root became the joint-youngest player to 10,000 Test runs, equalling former team-mate Sir Alastair Cook by managing the feat at 31 years and 157 days, but it was a long-awaited team victory that gave him a much sweeter feeling.
“People make a lot of the runs I have scored,” said Root, referencing a golden period in his career which has seen him plunder 2,192 runs across his last 21 Tests, with nine tons at an average of 56. “But it’s never enjoyable when you are losing Test matches, you would give up all those runs to win.
“When you’re high-fiving the rest of the group, and you can see the genuine joy and elation on their faces, that’s the one thing that I’ve missed the most, I suppose, 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 win at Lord’s, he made a point of saying how the thrill-a-minute Test was a fitting tribute to “wonderful guy and player” Shane Warne: “It was played in a way Shane would have loved,” said Root of a game that included 17 wickets on day one, a two-day finish looking eminently possible and excellent fightbacks from both sides.
He also voiced his pleasure that England had clinched victory inside 15 overs on day four – they did it in 13.5 – so that fans inside the stadium could get a full refund.
Live Test Cricket
June 10, 2022, 10:00am
Root cut a smiley, bouncy figure at Lord’s, one now free from the burden of captaincy.
It was an unenviable burden during the Covid-19 pandemic as he was charged with trying to keep his squad sane as they coped with the tight restrictions of bubble life.
He was often deprived of his best players through rest and rotation and in, Stokes’ case, through a finger injury and time spent away from the game prioritising his mental wellbeing.
He also faced the pressure of almost single-handedly propping up England’s brittle batting – highlighted starkly by the fact his tally of 1,708 Test runs in 2021 was 1,178 more than his nearest team-mate, Rory Burns. Of England’s total Test runs in 2021, Root notched almost 28 per cent.
“It had become a very unhealthy relationship, the captaincy and me,” said Root. “It had started to take a bad toll on my health. I couldn’t leave it at the ground anymore. It was coming home.
“It was not fair on my family, people close to me or myself. As soon as I made the decision [to step down] I knew it was the right thing to do. I felt like a big weight had been lifted.”
Speaking about Root being appointed, England men’s new director of cricket Rob Key said: “Finding out a bit more about the last two years, what Joe has done has been unbelievable.
“To play in a team that has been struggling and living through a pandemic, being captain and having to do so much and score the runs he has scored… it’s one of the great sporting achievements.”
As for Root’s greatest innings, his hundred against New Zealand this week must come into the conversation.
Sure, there have been larger knocks, including five double centuries and a best of 254, but in terms of timing and importance, this is right up there.
England were 32-2 when he strode to the crease in their chase of 277 and then 69-4 eight overs later, but he managed to meld coolness and class during partnerships with Stokes and then Foakes to drag his team to what Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain called a “vital” victory.
For all his remarkable run-getting of recent times, Root has not been the man there at the end clinching hard-fought or unlikely wins.
It looked like he could be the man at Headingley in 2019 but he was then dismissed early on the final day by Australia spinner Nathan Lyon, leaving Stokes to pull off an Ashes heist.
Against Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford in 2020, it was Chris Woakes, ably supported by Jos Buttler, who took England from 117-5 to their victory target of 277. In this year’s chase of 277, though, it was Root’s time.
Twitter Due to your consent preferences, you’re not able to view this Privacy Options
He said: “You look at the amount of times Ben has won us games under my captaincy and it is a great opportunity for me to give back to him in that respect. That’s a great motivator for me moving forward.
“I love batting and want to keep trying to bat for as long as I can, score as many runs as I can, help us win as many Test matches as I can. As long as I have the energy and drive, I will keep doing it.
“I love the group of players and I couldn’t wish for a better person to be leading this team than Ben. I will do everything I can to help him win games and see us become a successful Test team again.”
Joe Root – supreme batter and ultimate team man.
Watch day one of the second LV= Insurance Test between England and New Zealand, at Trent Bridge, live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 10am on Friday.