England v NZ, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 2nd day May 25, 2013

Root lights up homeground with maiden ton


England 337 for 7 (Prior 37*, Swann 21*, Boult 3-48) v New Zealand
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

It was, in the end, the scenario most of the locals wanted: two young, born and bred Yorkshiremen, digging England out of a hole with batting of class and substance. This was a golden afternoon for Yorkshire cricket.

Joe Root led the way. The 22-year-old, batting with a maturity that put his much-vaunted top-order colleagues to shame, registered his first Test century to steer his side away from the rocks and into far calmer waters.

While his colleagues paid the price for pushing and prodding away from their bodies, Root was compact, disciplined, patient and composed. He looked every inch the finished article as a Test batsman and generally played as late and as straight as any of his illustrious Yorkshire and England forefathers. Indeed, by becoming the first Yorkshire player to register his maiden Test century on this ground, he achieved something none of them had. He was also the first Yorkshire player to score a Test century at Headingley since Michael Vaughan in 2007.

With his county team-mate Jonny Bairstow, Root added 124 for the fifth wicket in increasingly confident style just as it appeared that New Zealand had seized the initiative. Until the pair came together, the second day of this match - the first had been lost to rain - had been characterised by soft dismissals as New Zealand's admirable bowlers again made good use of helpful conditions. Indeed, when England went into lunch 67 for 3 it raised questions about the wisdom of Alastair Cook choosing to bat first after winning the toss. New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum admitted he would have bowled first anyway.

But there was more than a degree of self-harm in England's early wickets. While Nick Compton, caught at third slip in the fourth over of the day, might consider himself the victim of fine bowling - the impressive Tim Southee drew Compton into driving a delivery he could have left by going wide on the crease and angling the ball in only to nip it away - Jonathan Trott had less excuse.

Having seen off the new ball, Trott was beginning to bat with some fluency when, on the brink of lunch, he attempted an uncharacteristically loose drive well outside off stump and edged behind. Cook followed to the next delivery, prodding at one he could have left and edging another catch to third slip.

By the time Ian Bell prodded lamely at an innocuous delivery well outside off stump from the part-time offspin of Kane Williamson, New Zealand were well on top. Bell's torturous innings had included being given out leg before to Southee on 12 - the decision was over-turned on review - and, on the same score, surviving an edge to the keeper off Trent Boult that the bowler, the umpire and most of the New Zealand fielders seemed not to notice.

Certainly, England were grateful for the Yorkshire influence. Root, particularly fluent off the back foot at the start of his innings, drove and cut nicely, put away the poor ball adeptly and ran like a whippet between the wickets.

But, as with any successful Test batsman, it was the shots Root did not play that were as important as those he did. While his more celebrated colleagues paid the price for pushing outside off stump, Root remained compact, refused to be drawn into anything away from his body and played the ball right below his eyes.

But it would be wrong to characterise Root as dour and defensive. In partnership with Bairstow, he plundered 19 from one over from Willamson, hitting three boundaries in succession as he showed a willingness to skip down the pitch and drive, to sweep and then to reverse sweep. His century, from 164 balls, came with his ninth four - a dab to third man - and made him the 11th youngest England player to score a Test century.

He survived a couple of anxious moments. Brendon McCullum was convinced he had caught Root down the legside off Doug Bracewell when he had 93 and utilised New Zealand's last review to check, and the umpire called for a replay when Neil Wagner got a hand on a Bairstow drive and thought - incorrectly as it transpired - that he may have run out Root as he backed up.

Bairstow took some time to settle but, once he had, lost little by comparison. Powerful on the pull and the cut, Bairstow was also strong off his legs and brought up his own half-century and the century stand with a sumptuous on-driven four that brought back memories of the stroke with which Geoff Boycott reached his 100th first-class hundred.

The value of their stand was thrown into even sharper relief by events that followed it. Once Root fell to a loose waft outside off stump, more a victim of a loss of concentration than the first delivery with the new ball, England lost three wickets for 16 runs. Bairstow, attempting to leave one outside off stump, was also caught behind before Stuart Broad, rooted to the crease, poked at a full ball and gave an inside-edge to McCullum.

Had Matt Prior, on 21, been caught at midwicket by Bracewell off Neil Wagner, New Zealand may have been able to finish off the innings. As it was, however, Prior and Graeme Swann were able to extend the eighth-wicket stand beyond 50 and ensure Root's hard work was not squandered.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Carl on May 27, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    @JG2704. averaging 38 and 43 is not bad in test cricket so that makes 3 good series in 6 (hope you're following the maths). Suspect that your keeness to make a point is overshadowing the facts. Hope that is easy to understand.

    Bell is class (although I do have concerns with his ability to get himself out in a variety of stupid ways), Compton is just a good county cricketer and has no place in a test team.

  • Mark on May 26, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding. There may be a little bit of bias there, in that Somerset are playing woefully in the CC this year and could do with all the help we could get! Drop him, he's useless!! Haha.

    In all seriousness, whilst I would be cautious about moving Root from the position he is doing so well in, having an opening bat with his talents at this age would be a major boon. Compo for now, with the idea to move JR up front soon enough is good, I just hope Nick can settle into a groove before the Ashes. At the moment, Siddle and co. will eat him alive.

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    New Zealand have a good bowling line up, seriously quality seamers and the best captain around in McCullum. I expect them to start really punishing teams as they move up the international rankings.

    They've been unlucky in this series to come up against a batsman who is in form and capable of playing the swinging ball. Root also has the uncanny ability to form partnerships which, whilst he's there, allow easier scoring for him and his partner. Once dismissed however, things look much more difficult for all batsmen.

  • Paul on May 26, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    Amazing, able to excuse Root and Bairstows dismissals to the new ball instead having a cheap shot at the No.8. Unfortunately typical of this correspondent.

  • John on May 26, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer /Shan156 - I'm not saying Root should or should not move up the order. Just that he has been doing it well for Yorks. Having said that I do feel that our top order are a bit pedestrian at times and Root further up might up the ante a bit. Personally my favourite Eng side was the Ashes 2005 side. 5/1/5 and playing attacking cricket with both bat and ball

    @RednWhiteArmy on (May 26, 2013, 6:14 GMT Maybe , but Eng were on the up back then and still getting good results with Cook in the side. When the side is not getting good results surely you have to look at who is underperforming - batsmen and bowlers.

  • John on May 26, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    @Pyketts on (May 25, 2013, 23:27 GMT) Really not that difficult to understand. I said he has had one good series in 6 since India in 2011. Vs WI (his good series) he averaged 111 ,vs Pak 8.5 , vs SL 27.66 , vs SA 28.8 ,vs India 43 , vs NZ 38.25 In India it was 1 not out inns on a placid batting pitch in the last test with the series all but won which inflated those figures. I'm not saying Nick's place (despite his 2 tons in 2 series compared to Bell's 1 ton in 6 series) should not be up for question but I don't think Bell's form should be overlooked either

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    Re: Bell, to be honest I think he needs dropping, not because I want him permanently out of the team, on song he's pure class, but the manner of his dismissals suggests complacency. The nature of his ODI comeback suggests that he needs something to prove to perform. So drop Bell.

  • Ashwin on May 26, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    with one day wasted by rain eng should have declared after reaching 250 noway NZ can even get close to that now with i big score Eng bowlers wont bowl with that much commitment than it would be for a lower socre

  • jared on May 26, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    better apologise to CricketingStargazer im not one of these trolls trying to aggrivate anyone and i don't mean to offend you, just thought your comment was harsh and well wide of the mark. Brendon mccullum is a very attacking captain constantly changing his fields and talking to his bowlers and unfortunatly it soaks up alot of time, its not a deliberate ploy to tie the match, no specialist spinner doesn't help the over rate either. For subbass its not like i want nz to only play for the draw, only when the game is gone, for example the last test in nz where england knew the game was gone, shut up shop and some how managed a draw, nz wouldn't do that, they would play their shots thinking by some miracle they will get there and lose badly, its very frustrating.

  • Jason on May 26, 2013, 7:48 GMT

    @Munkeymomo, I hope I'm wrong about KP, we'll need the experience he has in the ashes.

    I'm not so sure about Carberry, hes pushing 33, Compton is 28.

    Keeping root at 5 is a good idea until he settles on the international stage, but expect to see him move up the order, you might even see him replace Trott as fist drop.