Centurion Joe Root believes England have gone some way to defusing worries over a propensity to collapse after a dominant batting display on day two of their warm-up showdown with South Africa A in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.
Vice-captain Root struck 117 to follow the lead of skipper Alastair Cook who notched 126 as England racked up 414-6 declared and continued fine tuning their preparations ahead of the first Test against the world’s No1 team South Africa in Durban, which starts on Boxing Day. South Africa A reached 35-2 by the close.
England were guilty of collapsing in their opening warm-up clash against a South African Invitational XI last week, while it is an issue that has arisen on more than one occasion in recent years.
“In the last game we had a small collapse so to put that right in this game was vitally important,” said Root.
“There was some great time in the middle for a lot of the guys and we set the game up nicely so hopefully we can get a really strong result, which is exactly what we want.”
Cook shared an opening stand of 112 with Alex Hales, who notched 56 having only scored 16 runs in two innings during England’s warm-up tussle last week. Left-hander Cook brought up three figures with a pulled six, his second of the innings.
“When he [Cook] scores runs we do well, that’s as simple as it is,” added Yorkshireman Root, whose side lead by 243 runs heading into today’s third and final day.
After Cook’s departure, Root then assumed centre stage and chalked up 117 off 125 deliveries, while all-rounder Ben Stokes continued his return to fitness with an enterprising 47-ball 66.
Recalled Middlesex batsman Nick Compton and Nottinghamshire’s James Taylor were the other batsmen to depart, for 29 and 15 respectively.
Seamer Stuart Broad and off-spinning all-rounder Moeen Ali then struck with the ball to reduce South Africa A to 35-2.