England v South Africa: Joe Root will never have an easier Test match as England captain.

England convincingly beat the Proteas by 211 runs thanks largely to the new skipper and Moeen Ali. 

Ahead of the 2017 Test series against South Africa, the spotlight was firmly on new England captain Joe Root.

Five months since he was announced as Alastair Cook’s successor, the 26-year old has had plenty of time to prepare for the role and the challenges that come with it. His first opponents South Africa may not be the force they were a few years ago, but their record on these shores speaks volumes.

The Proteas’ last defeat at the ‘Home of Cricket’ came in 1960, and they haven’t lost a Test series in England since 1998.

So when England recorded an comprehensive 211-run victory with a day to spare on Sunday, it looked as if Root had got all of his decisions correct.

But one could easily forget how South Africa helped the new captain find his feet with some clumsy fielding and lacklustre batting.

Dropped catches, lazy bowling and wasteful with the bat, South Africa’s downfall was a painful message to Du Plessis to rescue them. Their second innings total of 119-all out was a sorrow viewing in particular.

But this Test could have gone a lot differently had it not been for Root himself. Had the England captain not taken England’s first innings by the scruff of the neck with that all-important 190, then the hosts may well have ended 100-runs short of a respectable score.

Once he was out on the crease, he was able to relax and play his game. Unlike Alastair Cook during the back-end of his captaincy, Root’s batting didn’t seem to have been affected by the added pressure of leading the team.

However, he had plenty more to think about during his second innings. Declarations and which bowling attack to use when South Africa chase would have been firmly on his mind as he stepped out of the pavilion to bat. He only scored five runs before being bowled by Keshav Maharaj but again as he grows into his new role, he will find it easier to not think too hard about those decisions and focus solely on scoring crucial runs for his country.

On a whole, it was a straightforward introduction to the captaincy for Joe Root, but I doubt he will ever get an easier Test match as England skipper. The conditions didn’t change all week, he never had a major partnership he desperately needed to break up, and all his players contributed either with the bat, the ball or in the field. A Captain’s dream.

South Africa will (hopefully) not be as poor in the field  or with the bat as the series heads to Trent Bridge. Du Plessis returns to the side, and brings with him his experience and leadership that the South Africans missed at Lord’s. He will no doubt come in and fire the tourists up for the second match, and Root should be prepared for a response from the Proteas.









ASHES 2015: Root Rescues England On Opening Day Of Test Series.

1st Test, Day One, Cardiff. 

Joe Root was England’s saviour once again as England ended day one of the first Ashes test in a decent position against rivals Australia.

Before Root’s galvanising performance at the crease, the crowd in Cardiff were watching on in fear as the Australian seamers attacked the stumps with relative success, reminiscent of scenes down under 18 months ago.

Adam Lyth’s Ashes debut ended predominantly when he went for just seven runs early on. Captain Alistair Cook went next for just 20 before Ian Bell came and went with just one run to his name.

With the score 43-3, England were in need of a hero, and he came in the form of the ever reliant Root. But it almost wasn’t to be.

When Root slightly edged the ball on zero, England fans’ hearts jumped to their mouths as the world suddenly went slow motion. Seemingly, any England fan praying for his survival had their wish granted as Aussie wicket keeper Brad Haddin dropped the simplest of catches. England fans and players alike blew air from their cheeks. The Australians thought to themselves what could have been.

After the scare, Root was composed, and hit the right shots towards the boundaries left, right and centre. Before long, Gary Ballance and himself contributed 153 runs between them to steady the ship.

Root made it to a half century in just 56 balls and then quickly made it to three figures with a trademark cover drive. His century in 118 deliveries was the fastest ever recorded in the first test match of any Ashes series.

The Yorkshire batsman made it to 137 before he was caught behind, but by then his job was done.

It was another magnificent innings for Root, who is the highest test run scorer in the world in 2015. He has scored 675 runs in 10 innings, with two hundreds and four half century’s altogether.

“I’m really pleased with the way things have gone. I rode my luck at times, especially early on,” said Root.

“It’s a little bit slow. Seeing the first few not carry was a bit of a worry. There’s a little bit there – there are a few little indentations, which could be helpful when we bowl.

“I’m happy to be in the position we are in as a team. Hopefully we can kick on in the morning. The longer we can keep them out there, the better it is for us.

“The guys out there currently are both very capable of scoring big scores – hopefully tomorrow is one of those days where they take it to them and we score 400-plus.”

By the end of the day England, guided by Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler before his late dismissal, surpassed 300 runs and ended on 343-7.

The Australians will still feel that they can turn the tide of the first test should they take wickets early in tomorrow morning. One highlight of their day was the 3-70 bowling figures from Ashes debutant Josh Hazlewood.

Hazlewood dismissed opener Lyth for the first wicket of this summer’s Ashes. He also crucially caught Gary Ballance LBW and got the wicket Jos Buttler late on.

“The game is fairly level at this stage. Hopefully we can clean them up in the morning,” said Hazlewood.

“We were good in patches. We kept it tight for periods but we leaked a few runs. When Root was batting he played fantastically and we need to find a plan for him.

“The wicket is quite slow and nullifies the short stuff but we tried to keep it full and swinging. The Duke ball is good fun – if you get it in the right areas there is always something there. If they get 40 or 50 more I think that’s about par for them.”