Sheffield star Joe Root carried out his England Lions orders to a tee as he “ground down” New Zealand at Grace Road and took his first-class runs tally to 646 in his prolific start to the new season.
The Lions captain’s six-and-a-quarter-hour 179 out of 444 for seven - his second-lowest score so far this summer - ensured the Lions finished a rain-wrecked fixture in a dominant position yesterday.
Match manager and England’s limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles had asked his team of Test hopefuls to keep the tourists on the back foot before they head to Lord’s. With that first Test and then a second on his home ground at Headingley to come, it is conceivable that Root could yet become the first Englishman in 75 years, and only the sixth ever, to pass 1,000 runs by the end of May.
The last batsman to achieve the feat in an English season was Zimbabwe-born Graeme Hick, in 1988.
Root’s prospects remain unlikely, of course, but he has done enough to keep them just about realistic.
Irrespective of fanciful targets like that, Giles was once again impressed by what he had seen from the young Yorkshireman here.
“We talked about grinding them down, and we did,” he said. “It’s great. Joe works very hard, and very specifically as well, and he’s worked his game out. We still need to be guarded on how much we build the lad up - he’s only played a few Tests - but so far so good.”
Yorkshire, meanwhile, lost by 131 runs in their Yorkshire Bank 40 League clash with Somerset at Headingley on Saturday.