First of all, apologies for not writing this sooner. I’ve been insanely busy with work. Fortunately, however, I wasn’t too busy to watch most of Joe Root’s magnificent century at Lord’s – his first in the 4th innings of a Test match. His CV is now pretty much complete. Only a hundred down under is missing now. Those nine fifties don’t quite cut it.
England’s splendid win against New Zealand wasn’t all thanks to Root – Ben Foakes also played an incredibly sensible and composed innings – but there’s no way England would’ve got close to their target without a decisive century from by far their best player. Root was simply magnificent – technically sound, mentally strong, and as composed as you like. Well, I guess he’s used to carrying the hopes of a cricketing nation entirely on his shoulders so it almost seemed routine.
There were other excellent performances from England players, of course. Predictably none of them were batsmen – the top order is still an absolute disaster – but there were definitely some positives with the ball. Matt Potts enjoyed an excellent debut, as many 80-84mph seamers have done at home in recent years, but there was something about his approach that suggests greater longevity than the likes of Toby Roland Jones.
Basically, Potts looks like the kind of bowler that makes things happen, whether that’s through enthusiasm, perseverance, or just force of personality. He’s also probably hits the bat harder than most medium-fast seamers. In fact, he reminds me of Tim Bresnan at his pomp down under in 2010/11.
Although I’m not as high on Potts as some – I’m not going to crown him as the next big thing after one appearance – he’s certainly a good addition to England’s battery of seamers. One does wonder, however, how the likes of Fisher and even Craig Overton might have looked in this game. It’s a much tougher gig bowling with the Kookaburra down under.
It was also heartwarming, of course, to see Anderson and Broad rightly restored to the England side. It was always madness to leave them out of the Windies series – I still have no idea what Andrew Strauss was thinking unless it was a dead cat strategy to deflect attention away from the crazy domestic schedule – so it was great to see the dynamic duo prove a point. Stuart Broad is always great entertainment and as for Jimmy Anderson, well, he’s just an artist. I never tire of watching him bowl.
The big question following the game is obviously whether this is the start of a brave new era under Affable Rob, Good Banter Baz, and (for the time being) Breath of Fresh Air Clare. Personally, I doubt it. Root won’t score a ton every game – although he’ll give it a damn good go – and the other batsmen looked poor. What’s more, England clearly benefitted, if we’re being honest, from the fact that New Zealand were a bowler down after Colin The Big Man’s injury. That won’t happen every time, either.
Having said that, we’ve been so short of success in recent times that it’s impossible not to get carried away after a good win. It felt really nice. What’s more, in Joe Root, we’ve got the best all-round batsman England have possessed in decades – probably since Boycott.
Personally, I think Root is even better than Kevin Pietersen because he’s more versatile. He doesn’t misread situations, play stupid shots, and then try to defend himself by reasoning “well, that’s the way I play”. Remember all those daft shots during KP’s next analysis slot on Sky. He talks a great game, and he was certainly a great cricketer, but he didn’t always bat as intelligently as he talks about batting now. Overall, Root is definitely the king. F**k me he’s good just ask me.