Joe Root has joined an illustrious list of cricket greats, but his match-winning century may not have been his most impressive feat on Sunday.
Joe Root’s 26th Test century has guided England to a five-wicket victory over New Zealand at Lord’s, with the former skipper scoring an unbeaten 115 on day four of the series opener.
England chased down the 277-run target in less than 79 overs on Sunday, with Root and wicketkeeper Ben Foakes combining for an unbeaten 120-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
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It was just England’s second win in 18 Tests.
The 31-year-old simultaneously reached triple figures and passed 10,000 career Test runs with a glance through the leg side, becoming the first cricketer to achieve the feat within 10 years of their debut
It was Root’s ninth Test century since the start of 2021. Nobody else has scored more than five tons during that time.
“The game ebbed and flowed throughout the whole time,” England captain Ben Stokes said at the presentation ceremony.
“No one ever really had the upper hand at any stage and I thought the way we handled the pressure in the fourth innings to chase down 270 on a pretty difficult wicket was fantastic.
“And obviously ‘Mr Dependable’, Joe Root, stood up. Scoring and 10,000 runs — what a player and what a man.
“Regardless of being captain, the first Test match of the summer has always got a buzz about it, but obviously it was a special week.
“To come away with the win obviously makes it even better.”
Root also sent social media into a frenzy after he managed to balance his bat on its toe, with footage of the bizarre moment going viral.
Fans couldn’t believe he managed to get his bat to stand upright without balancing on anything.
Root joins an illustrious list of Test cricketers in the 10,000-run club. Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook is the only other Englishman to have passed the milestone.
Incredibly, Root and Cook achieved the feat at the exact same age — 31 years and 157 days.
England was reeling at bottom of the World Test Championship table coming into the Lord’s Test, but are now 1-0 up in a three-match series against title-holders New Zealand.
“Obviously it feels fantastic,” Root said.
“More than anything, first of all, for us to have won this Test match after such a long time is the greatest feeling of all.
“It’s been a tough road for everyone but the way everyone has gone about it has been so enjoyable … I love batting and I just want to keep batting for as long as I can, and score as many runs as I can, to help us win as many Test matches as we can.”
Root led England in a record 64 Tests spanning five years before resigning as skipper in April following a run of just one win in 17 Tests.
The stresses and strains of leading England during the Covid-19 pandemic persuaded the Yorkshire batter to step down from the role, with vice-captain Stokes taking over the reins.
“It had become a very unhealthy relationship to be honest, the captaincy and me,” Root told reporters.
“It started to really take a bad toll on my own personal health. I couldn’t leave it at the ground anymore, it was coming home.
“It wasn’t fair on my family, on people close to me and it wasn’t fair on myself either.
“I had thrown everything at it and I was determined to help turn this team around but I realised over that time at home that it would have to be in a different way.”
Root said he was looking forward to playing an influential role in once again turning the team into a force on the Test stage.
“I’m very excited to do that now and to do everything I can to help Ben really turn this team around and make this team the force it should and can be,” he continued.
“It got to the stage where it was time for someone else to lead that but I can try and influence it in a different role, in a different way.
“I threw absolutely everything at the role and I’m proud of the way that I tried to do that.”
The second Test between England and New Zealand gets underway at Trent Bridge on Friday, with the first ball scheduled for 8pm AEST.
Highest fourth-innings totals to win a Test at Lord’s
344/1 — West Indies vs ENG, 1984
282/3 — England vs NZ, 2004
277/5 — England vs NZ, 2022
218/3 — England vs NZ, 1965