England Test skipper Joe Root defied suggestions that the captaincy would adversely affect his batting by posting a majestic century in his first innings in the role against South Africa at Lord’s.
The 26-year-old became the sixth Englishman to achieve such a feat as his unbeaten 184 underpinned his side’s recovery from 76-4 to 357-5 at the close. All-rounders Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes weighed in with 61 not out and 56 respectively.
Arriving at the crease with England struggling at 17-2 in the first Investec Test, Root was handed a reprieve when he was dropped by JP Duminy at gully while on 16 and he was later stumped off a no-ball having amassed 149.
By the end of the first day’s play, Yorkshireman Root had overtaken his three immediate predecessors and fellow century-scoring leadership debutants – Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss – in notching the highest score by an England skipper in his first game in charge.
“It was pretty special, a bit of a dream world to be honest,” said Root. “You want to start well and set an example of how you want lads to approach their cricket.
“I rode my luck, especially early on. I didn’t get my feet going, they felt stuck at times, and South Africa bowled very well and made it difficult. But it seemed to be one of those days where everything fell into place and I managed to capitalise.”
Root was forced into batting action after Cook and opening partner Keaton Jennings both fell to the accurate Vernon Philander. Recalled batsman Gary Ballance was then pinned lbw after scoring 20 and Jonny Bairstow departed for 10, leaving Root to rebuild the innings with Stokes and then Moeen, with scoring accelerated as the day wore on.