Root, Bairstow fine tune for Lions duty
Yorkshire 597 for 5 (Root 236, Bairstow 186) lead Derbyshire 475 by 122 runs
This time next week Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root will be preparing to play for England Lions against New Zealand at Leicester, with Root leading the team. This week they had a gentle limber up at Headingley, adding 231 runs for Yorkshire's third wicket over a little under four hours during which they utterly dominated Derbyshire's attack.
Derbyshire's bowling was diminished by the absence of opening bowler Tony Palladino, and the pitch has offered next to no help, but that should not detract from the magnificent display they provided for a Yorkshire crowd which had had to endure seeing their own bowlers taken apart by Chesney Hughes on the first two days.
Bairstow joined Root shortly before lunch after Phil Jaques had been run out attempting a single on a misfield by Wayne Madsen. Root was visibly livid about his part in the debacle, no doubt especially because he ran out the same team mate at Durham last week, but it didn't fluster him. In fact one of the most impressive aspects of his game is that he is always in control of it. He simply got his head down and carried on running Derbyshire ragged. Andrew Gale first got himself set, then got himself out, but that only brought Bairstow onto the stage and the fun was about to begin.
Root was nurtured by the same club in Sheffield that produced Michael Vaughan, and there is a lot of Vaughan about him. They have similar builds, and like Vaughan's, the weight of his runs is built on a sound, orthodox technique. Root's selection as captain of the Lions has inevitably led to speculation that he is being groomed by the selectors for future leadership. His total of runs in his last three innings, 467, will presumably secure him an extended run in the Test team, if that wasn't already a done deal. Whether he will emulate Vaughan and progress to Test captaincy remains to be seen. When asked the question at close of play he played a characteristically elegant dead bat.
His stroke play was excellent, on both sides of the wicket and on both front and back feet. It was nearly all genuine, orthodox stuff, though a scoop over his shoulder off the front foot for four against Tim Groenewald showed that he's capable of the outrageous as well. In the end Dan Redfern, who had only taken five first class wickets at an average of 56 before today, was too good for Root, bowling him round his legs with an off break.
Root was, as you might expect, delighted with his recent form. "It's nice to get some runs early on," he said. "Especially in April when it's not always that easy". Asked about what he learned from his experience with England in the winter, he cited the importance of being "greedy" when he's played himself in, and that "nice 60s and 70s don't win games". He's certainly been greedy over the last five days.
Bairstow's innings was more belligerent and he scored more quickly. He was particularly effective in the early stages through the leg side on the front foot, but once really established he played all around the field.
With Palladino injured, Jonathan Clare stepped in to share the new ball. At one stage in his second spell he had three fielders on the off side boundary barely 30 yards apart when bowling to Bairstow. Once Root had gone for a career-best 236 Bairstow was joined for the last hour of the day by left-hander Gary Ballance, and there was no letup in the pace.
During the last half hour there were routinely seven or eight on the boundary as the pair added 117 runs off 14 overs before Bairstow was caught off Wes Durston in the penultimate over for 186. At the close of play Ballance had scored 50 off 61 balls and Yorkshire had batted themselves into a lead of 122.
The brunt of the bowling fell on the spinners. Left-armer David Wainwright, enduring a difficult return to his old county, and offspinner Wes Durston got through 73 overs between them. While both had a thankless task on a flat pitch against two batsmen, and one in particular, in great form they rarely threatened, though in the circumstances Wainwright's economy rate of 3.5 deserves credit.
All the signs suggest that Yorkshire will look to pile on more runs in the first hour tomorrow then, as Joe Root put it, "have a good go at Derbyshire". The odds must still be on the groundsman and his feather bed.