New Zealand v England – Joe Root says he ‘owed’ century to team-mates

Cricket, New Zealand v England - Joe Root says he 'owed' century to team-mates, sport

Joe Root says he “owed” his first century in eight Tests to his England team-mates.

Root’s 153 not out in the second Test against New Zealand helped England to 435-8 declared before the hosts slipped to 138-7 after two days in Wellington.

“It’s been a while since I made a solid contribution,” former captain Root told BBC Sport.

“I had the bit between my teeth. It felt like the lads have carried me for a while so it was my turn to chip in.”

Root’s run without a three-figure score in Tests was his longest in two years, with his last century coming in the win against India at Edgbaston in July.

At the Basin Reserve he was at the crease when England fell to 21-3 on the first morning after being asked to bat on a green pitch.

Root and Harry Brook built a spectacular recovery in a fourth-wicket partnership worth 302. Brook was out for 186 on the second morning, while Root went on to make his 14th score in excess of 150 in Test cricket.

“I felt like I owed that to the group,” said 32-year-old Root. “I really thrived on that situation. It needed someone to stand up and bring a bit of calmness to things after being 21-3.”

The first session on Saturday saw England add 120 runs in less than two hours to their overnight 315-3. Root himself made 52 from 42 balls.

The tourists declared just before lunch, with three wickets each for James Anderson and Jack Leach leaving New Zealand 98 runs short of avoiding the follow-on when rain arrived to end play almost two hours early.

When asked if England would enforce the follow-on if given the opportunity on day three, Root said: “Let’s see where we’re at tomorrow. You can get carried away looking at things now.

“They could get 150 or 200 more runs. They could get 30. Things can look very different at each end of that spectrum. Whatever we do, it will be a positive option. We’re here to entertain, we’re here to win.”

With 10,853 Test runs and 29 centuries for England, Root is second to only Alastair Cook on both all-time lists.

Root did go past Cook’s record of 59 Tests as England captain, leading 64 times before stepping down in April following a run of one win 17 matches.

The Yorkshire batter has previously said he had a “very unhealthy relationship” with the captaincy. This winter is his first since 2017 back in the ranks.

“You obviously get more time to yourself,” he said. “It’s the less mental energy I spend thinking about the game which has been really beneficial.

“When things were going well for me it was very easy to manage. Towards the back end, with all the different aspects that occurred, it made it quite challenging at times. That can stay in the past now.”

Root’s successor, Ben Stokes, has led England to 10 wins in 11 Tests. Victory at the Basin Reserve would give them a seventh consecutive win for the first time since 2004.

“I’ve loved it,” said Root. “Ever since stepping back, I didn’t really know how I’d feel about things, how I’d manage certain parts of the game.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it, even when things haven’t personally being going very well. The way that we have been playing and to be part of the journey this team has been on has been so much fun.”

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