England Lions v NZ, Tour Match, Grace Road, 2nd day May 10, 2013

Root hundred strikes pre-Test blow


England Lions 219 for 2 (Root 105*, Carberry 77) trail New Zealanders 285 (Rutherford 126, Roland-Jones 4-54) by 66 runs

New Zealand's preparations for the Test series had gone pretty much according to plan in the early days of the tour, but they were given a jolt on the second day at Grace Road as the Lions, perhaps motivated by the presence of most of the England management, took charge through a classy hundred by their captain Joe Root, following an improved bowling display.

There was a curious amount of tension surrounding Root's hundred, which came off 161 balls, not because he had looked anything but fluent for most of his stay but because of the threat of bad light that almost had him sleeping overnight in the 90s. However, two balls before the day was ended Root cut Bruce Martin through point to bring up his third hundred of the season. He will want to bottle this form.

He had been given life on 23 when Brendon McCullum could not hold a high a chance at second slip off Doug Bracewell but it was another classy innings. McCullum spoke before the game of wanting to strike a blow against players set to appear in the Test, but it is Root who has taken an early psychological high.

A couple of his cover drives stood out and he went to fifty with a straight six off Martin having already passed 500 first-class runs for the season. When Kane Williamson was introduced, Root slog-swept him through midwicket three times and also tried a reverse sweep.

It was a difficult day for New Zealand. They lost their last seven wickets for 74 either side of lunch, a collapsed sparked by the run out of Hamish Rutherford for 126, and then they struggled to make inroads into the Lions top-order with what could yet be their Test bowling attack, although Neil Wagner would be particularly unlucky to be overlooked.

Four of New Zealand's key players did not play against Derbyshire so this is their only outing before Lord's. McCullum and Ross Taylor were never due to appear in that first tour game due to the IPL and their early arrival did not change plans, but strike bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult were left out. Boult, especially, looked short of rhythm when he began with three consecutive no-balls and continued to struggle with overstepping.

Southee found some swing with the new ball, as he will be expected to do throughout the tour, and found the edge of Varun Chopra in his third over. After that, however, Root and Michael Carberry, who shared an unbeaten 197-run stand in the corresponding fixture against West Indies last year, took charge with increasing fluency.

The second-wicket pair kept almost level pegging throughout. Carberry had reached his half-century first, an innings feature some characteristic one-legged pulls and strong square drives, but it is questionable how much more is being learned by playing a 32-year-old in a game such as this, regardless of whether he is next in line for a Test place. He missed a chance for a hundred when he picked out midwicket sweeping at Martin, giving the left-arm spinner a boost after a tricky day.

It was an opportune day for England's 2nd XI to fight back, with Andy Flower (here with the selectors putting the finishing touches to the Test squad to be announced on Saturday) and Andrew Strauss, who is now employed by the ECB for 25 days a year as a consultant, among those at the ground.

New Zealand will also be disappointed that more of their batsmen did not follow the lead of Rutherford. He had continued in the aggressive vein of the previous day - one crunching cover drive beat the sweeper despite him only having a few yards to run - but misjudged a single to mid-off as Chris Woakes hit direct. It departure gave others a chance, but they didn't take it.

McCullum, who was outstanding in a counter-attacking role during the series in New Zealand, pushed firmly at a full delivery from Graham Onions and edged to gully. However, he is one of those batsmen where you sense warm-up form is not a vital factor come Test match time.

BJ Watling was comfortable until getting an inside edge into middle stump against Woakes, while Dean Brownlie batted throughout the session, quietly accumulating, largely off the back foot as is his preferred style, but the lower order did not stay with him. Southee accompanied him briefly in a scatter-gun innings which included getting off the mark with a pulled six and being dropped twice off Ravi Bopara - once by the bowler himself then at slip by Chopra - before being trapped lbw.

Seven down at lunch, the innings was over swiftly after the break as Simon Kerrigan added his name to the wicket-takers when he beat Martin's attempt to pull then Toby Roland-Jones, given another spell downhill, ensured no rally from the tail to perhaps flatter himself slightly with four wickets.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on May 11, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    @Optic on (May 11, 2013, 12:37 GMT) What I say is totally just. Re the consistent selection policy helping us to the top 3 in all 3 fmts - could it not also be said that we might still be top of the test rankings - or at least closer to SA - had we done better in our 2 early 2012 SC tours and they by and large kept faith with the same underperforming batting line ups there. Since beating India in 2011 our results have been 0-3 in UAE , 1-1 in SL , 2-0 (H) WI , 0-2 (H) SA , 2-1 (A) India , 0-0 (A) NZ

    Out of all those results , I'd say 1 was above par , 1 was a par result and the rest were below par.

    BTW - They had to drop Morgan after UAE as all our batsmen were failing and he was the last in and can you honestly tell me (post India 2011) that Bell's form l has justified his place in the side and that our pace bowlers have performed since early 2012? For me we should play 5/1/5 playing Prior at 6 Woakes at 7 and Onions over Finn

  • Suraj on May 11, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Ha ha ha some narrow minded already start to Compare Great KP with Improving Kid Root..Anyway Root will grow n grow and one day he will lead English White Shirt Team..

  • John on May 11, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    @Long-Leg on (May 11, 2013, 8:16 GMT), it's possible that Root is playing as much for the captaincy experience as anything else, if the selectors really do see him as a possible future captain. He's not going to get the opportunity otherwise. That said, I think that England still don't see their middle order as completely settled, although I'd say that Root is first choice for that #6 spot. He's not really competing with KP though. KP would have played at #4 and Root at #6 but now Bell will move to #4, Root will play at #5 and Bairstow will likely play at #6, although Taylor may be a chance if he significantly outplays Bairstow. Once KP is fit again, it will be Bairstow or Taylor who will most likely make way and Root will retain his place. Root can pretty much make that #6 spot his own with a good performance this summer. He didn't have a great series in NZ though, so that might explain the run out with the Lions.

  • David on May 11, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    I think we just have to get Root into the test side. What is he doing playing for the lions anyway. With KP out of the early tests I would give Root the two matches against New Zealand and play him in the middle order. If he does well it is quite possible that KP will struggle to get back into the side.

  • Rob on May 11, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    I know it's early days but I just have this gut feeling about Root he seems to be one of those who raise their game the higher the standard gets. There are a number of promising batsmen coming through (Taylor, Bairstow...)but the bowling is the area I worry about- Finn has not reached expectations, Broad is hit and mainly miss and if Jimmy was to have an injury I would be bricking it. Toby Roland Whatsit is promising and I have high hopes for Woakes, hopefully post his operation Bresnan may be back to the standard he was at prior to his first one, we will see.

  • John on May 11, 2013, 0:51 GMT

    Root is certainly having an amazing start to the season. Three hundreds in successive innings is something that doesn't happen often. Nice to see Carberry get some runs, too, I always thought he was unlucky not to get more of a chance at top level.

    This is only a warm-up, so don't read too much into it.

  • Andrew on May 10, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    Interesting Day, I really thought NZ's pacers would be more effective, so Root's ton was the cream on a great vein of form. Roland-Jones boasts a near unbelievable FC S/Rate, yet not a lot of wickets per match, which is odd.

  • j on May 10, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    An awesome ton from Root, he's yet another talent that's come good for England. A pummeling Hundred on a green wicket, if Compton doesn't score at least 150 in every test innings from now Root is always going to be vying for his place. He has long proved he can bat amazingly in either the middle order or as an opener.

  • kevin on May 10, 2013, 20:50 GMT

    The inability of the NZ tail to hang around with a set batsman continues to be a worry. The last four need to be told to hang around rather than going out to have a slog. Martin isn't as bad as the others admittedly. I hope they use the second innings to give everyone a bat.

  • Dummy4 on May 10, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    Think you are being a tad harsh on Carbs, if it wasn't for the fact Strauss was captain I'm sure he'd of got a decent run in the test team.

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