Joe Root reaches century as England seal victory over New Zealand in first Test | England v New Zealand 2022
Hang the bunting, roll out the trestle tables and peel the cellophane over the scotch eggs, the English summer is kicked off with a first Test win since last August and, as Joe Root fired Tim Southee for four to finish the job , the sense of relief on the balcony of the home team was palpable.
Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum barely knew each other before they were paired as captain and head coach, but they hope the embrace they shared is the first of many. Thanks to Root’s unbeaten 115 – a run of class and poise – the one win in 17 Test match stat that brought them together can be penned.
In the middle, after completing a 277 chase to beat New Zealand by five wickets, Root looked emotional. The captaincy had clearly taken its toll, though its shape remained celestial, with the Yorkshireman later describing it as an “unhealthy relationship” at the end. As such, it will likely be an inning he remembers with special fondness when he finally hangs up his bat.
The same probably goes for when Root hid Southee on the side of the leg for a few runs and saw his 77 overnight transformed into his 26th Test century. With those two races he also became the second Englishman at 10,000 test races and to do so at 31 and 157 days, exactly the same age as Alastair Cook when he reached that milestone, was just an added fun fact to add to an already heady mixture. .
Getting his team over the line without a wobble through an unbroken 120 position with Ben Foakes – Paddington to Root’s Elizabeth and completing 32 paces – will be the main source of pride, however. The fourth morning had started full of possibilities – England needed 61 runs, New Zealand five wickets for their first victory at Lord’s since 1999 – and there was dampness in the air after the first showers. The spotlights were on and both sides knew an early strike would expose a long tail.
But despite all those murky conditions and the apparent pressure of a team that had endured a winless winter, what followed was like a gentle Sunday morning stroll in nearby Regent’s Park. The old ball didn’t tip for New Zealand and once Root and Foakes got off to a good start, the tourists soon realized that their own 45-for-seven response on opening day would likely be vain.
However, it would be an exaggeration to claim that this is a turning point for England, given the identity of the architects. Matt Potts certainly had a promising debut at seven wickets, but it was a victory based on the genius of Root, the enduring skills of Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, plus half a century of Stokes momentum in pursuit that been blessed with the chance of being knocked out of a no-ball on his debut.
A hardier perennial like the first three will take longer to repair – it was remarkable to see McCullum flanked by Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope on the final morning for some encouraging words – but at least there was a significant uptick in their stake in service by way of attitude and execution. Pope’s direct hit against Colin de Grandhomme in the game-changing team hat-trick concocted by Broad on matchday three was a wicket winner thanks to England’s increased focus in that department .
In many ways, England just had to cross the line here, not only to see the Stokes-McCullum axis begin in a positive way, but knowing that defending world champions New Zealand are much better than their rusty opening day with the bat. . After another stumble early in their second run, Kane Williamson’s side recovered Daryl Mitchell’s superb 108 and an equally fearsome 96 from Tom Blundell. Kyle Jamieson, who finished with six wickets in the game, promises to be a permanent threat in this series thanks to his extra rebound and abundant skill.
Mitchell and Blundell’s 195-race stand was a case of the supporting cast stepping up for tourists, something England must materialize within its own group if any real progress is to be claimed. That said, Foakes’ performance with the gloves and then the bat made for a satisfying home debut. It was also a first Test victory for the Surrey matinee idol since his first series in Sri Lanka in 2018, while Potts and Matt Parkinson – rewarded for a race on the motorway on the first day – are next to the plate.
But it was mainly Root’s day, guiding and sliding towards his first century in the fourth set of a test match, rolling out a succession of limits at the end and delighting the crowd beyond these last blows, with the race – pursuit in less time. over 15 overs on the fourth morning. According to the message that appeared on the big screen, a full refund of their tickets will be issued.
It was also an instant throwback to Stokes’ instructions that Root should completely take his mind off the tactical and man-management tensions of the previous five years and focus solely on pursuing his extraordinary form. Stokes, against whom the results now go, was also the first to greet Root when he entered the Long Room, their friendship stronger than ever, even though the baton of captaincy has now been passed.