England v New Zealand: Hosts threaten to waste Root's good work

Joe Root
Joe Root

England's casual batting at the end of the third day has given New Zealand a glimmer of hope in an absorbing first Test at Lord's.

The hosts had totally dominated the third day and were in the process of batting New Zealand out of the game, but some injudicious shots from Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior and Jonathan Trott in the final hour took the gloss off their performance.

Despite the mini-collapse, England still hold the upper hand and, if they can extend their lead - currently worth 205 - beyond 250 on a pitch that is starting to give considerable assistance to the spinners, they should win the game.

There are clear rough areas on both sides of the wicket and the sharp turn and bounce that part-time off-spinner Kane Williamson generated to bowl Trott suggests England's Graeme Swann will be a handful.

The flurry of late wickets merely underlined the importance of the 123-run partnership for the third wicket between Root and Trott after England had lost openers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton to the new ball in falling to 36-2 in their second innings.

Twenty-two-year-old Root, who made 71 from 120 balls, plays like somebody who has been batting in first-class cricket for at least five years longer than he has. He makes everything look so easy and already seems to belong at this level.

Usually, when a young player starts off in Test cricket you can see areas they need to work on, but I cannot see any obvious weakness in his game; there is nothing in his make-up that makes you question his technique.

He is not a flamboyant player, although his one-day form in New Zealand shows he can play that sort of innings.

He plays calmly yet still scores at a good rate; he always seeks to be busy without being the least bit rushed or flustered.

Along with Trott, he ensured England's approach was much more positive than their rather hesitant effort in the first innings.

The bad balls were dispatched to the boundary on an ever-quickening outfield, while left-arm spinner Bruce Martin was rightly treated with far less respect than he had been on the opening day, when England were too often patting his bad balls meekly to cover when they should have been hitting them for four.

Root's latest innings - made from number four because of Ian Bell's illness - coupled with a failure for Nick Compton, will inevitably lead to more talk of the young Yorkshireman moving up the order, but he should be kept in the middle order.

When Kevin Pietersen comes back, Root should return to number six so he can get more experience, make some more runs, bed himself in as a Test player and really get his England career fully under way.

Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham.

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