Sheffield’s England cricket sensation Joe Root has batted into the history books as the first Yorkshire player to score a maiden Test century at Headingley, writes Graham Walker.
The 22-year-old, a revelation since arriving on the international scene last winter, celebrated his first England appearance at his home ground with a fantastic innings of 104 on day two of the second Investec Test against New Zealand.
Root took to the crease with England in danger at 67 for three but he changed proceedings with his 167-ball stay that included nine boundaries.
Without his efforts, the home side would have been far away from the 337 for seven they closed with.
He also topped 1,000 runs so far this year and celebrated a 124-run stand with fellow Tyke Jonny Bairstow, whose knock of 64, mostly scored during his partnership with Root, provided another reason for the Yorkshire faithful to be cheerful.
Root has received plenty of plaudits since his debut in Nagpur six months ago, but none of them have been as heartfelt as the rapturous acclaim he receieved from the Headingley faithful as he celebrated his hundred.
“It was pretty special, very enjoyable and I am sure I will remember it for a long time,” he said.
“It is obviously right up there with the best of them. I got lost in it a bit but you only get your first one once, so you have to enjoy it and it was obviously nice to get there.
“Emotions took over and that was the result of it.
“I got a nice reception walking out but when you get out there you don’t think about much else apart from the ball coming down at you.
“Then once I got to a hundred, I got a nice reception which is very enjoyable because it was nice to get it on my home ground.”
Despite his easy-going on-field persona, Root also has all the hallmarks of a perfectionist.
As such, he could hardly help chastising himself for the manner of his eventual dismissal - from the first delivery with the second new ball.
“I was obviously disappointed,” he said.
“It took me a while to calm down. It was the first ball with the new ball and that exposed new batters, which is exactly what you don’t want.
“Jonny Bairstow and I had just got a 100-run partnership together and we knew the next 10 overs were going to be crucial.
“To get out at that point was very disappointing, but I think the guys at the end batted really well to get another partnership together.”
Root was pleased to enjoy some quality time in the middle with his county colleague.
“It was great to see Jonny score runs. I am sure he really enjoyed it too and I think the partnership was a really good one,” he said.
“It was nice to see him down the other end having a big smile on his face and it was quite a nice touch to have another Yorkie out there with me.”
Trent Boult ensured New Zealand took something from the day by removing Root, Bairstow and Stuart Broad in the space of 13 balls.
The left-arm seamer paid tribute to Root, but admitted a slight frustration with his side’s position.
He said: “Joe played extremely well. He looks like he’s got a good approach to batting and a pretty good game plan and he scores pretty much all round the ground
“Well done to him; it’s his first Test hundred and he did tremendously well.
“It was pretty testing for us. They’re 337 for seven and that’s not a great day for us.”