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Ivo Tennant at West End
July 13, 2012
Hampshire 39 for 0 trail Yorkshire 350 for 9 (Root 222*) by 311 runs
No-one has ever doubted Joe Root can bat. Not in Yorkshire, not the England Under-19 coaches and, it can be assumed without fear of contradiction, not the national selectors. His second century in three matches and highest score of his career, an unbeaten 222, enlivened a match that has been wretchedly affected by the weather. There was just about every orthodox shot in anyone's book, as well as a few unfamiliar ones, as Yorkshire sprinted to an unlikely fourth batting point.
"I am very proud of what I achieved," Root said. "But I was equally proud that we achieved that extra batting point which could be vital come the end of the season. The pitch was flatter than on the first day, when I had to work hard, and the key was to absorb the pressure when Hampshire bowled well and capitalise when they didn't. I am not renowned for hitting sixes but was given licence to try to reach the fourth point by the coach and captain.
"I am very pleased I made my family proud as they have done such a lot for me, carting me to matches around the country. I'll have a little celebration but then will really celebrate if we achieve promotion at the end of the season. That is our most important aim - to play in the first division once again."
Quite where Root's innings will lead to in the context of this match is another matter. After three days, we are barely into the second innings of four. To highlight the magnitude of Root's contribution, the next highest score in Yorkshire's total of 350 for nine declared, was 37, made by the No. 9, Steven Patterson. The pitch was sluggish, the ball still nipping off the seam.
Towards the end of his innings, Root took a step down the pitch and straight drove Kabir Ali for six, only the second of his first-class career, followed by a vicious square cut for four and a further six, this time over midwicket. He is not powerfully built, so this was quite a statement against the bowler who had removed Phil Jaques and Jonny Bairstow so quickly the previous day. There were 25 fours and another six in his double century besides. His second century was achieved at better than a run a ball.
Patterson's contribution was significant, for he and Root, who went past 500 first-class runs for the season and was not dropped until he had made 215, put on 121 off 199 balls. This after Yorkshire, 83 for 3 overnight, had slumped to 108 for 6 through the dismissals of Anthony McGrath and Richard Pyrah, both off Dimitri Mascarenhas. Azeem Rafiq, and then Patterson, bolstered the total.
Statistics came in a flurry, now: Root reached his double century off 260 balls, the final 50 runs of his 222 took just 24 balls and his innings in all amounted to 63% of Yorkshire's total. That there was a declaration upon reaching a fourth batting point at least enabled Stephen Harmison, that honorary Yorkshireman, to have a burst in - remarkably - late afternoon sunshine. Only it amounted to a burst of wides - three in the opening over. Hampshire survived without losing a wicket.
Among Root's numerous admirers is one Geoffrey Boycott, who has already stated that he can succeed Andrew Strauss in the England side in due course. High praise indeed.
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