Sheffield's Joe Root eager for England to build a lead

Centurion Joe Root resumes on the third morning against South Africa knowing a first-innings lead could be crucial for England in the third Test.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 16th January 2016, 8:17 am
Updated Saturday, 16th January 2016, 8:24 am
Sheffield's cricket hero
Sheffield's cricket hero

Root made a superb 106 not out on day two at the Wanderers, guiding the tourists away from choppy waters to leave them 238 for five at stumps.

That represents a deficit of just 75, and a real opportunity for Root to help establish a workable advantage.

A bowler-friendly pitch that is unlikely to quieten down as the game progresses means England's task is not an easy one.

But should Root, overnight partner Jonny Bairstow and number eight Moeen Ali get the job done life will be even harder for the Proteas.

"There's going to have to be a lot of hard work done by all the guys if we're to get some sort of positive result from this game," cautioned Root.

"The way we play for the rest of this innings is crucial. We need to form strong partnerships if we want to build some sort of lead.

"And if we get any kind of lead that gives us the opportunity to put South Africa back under pressure.

"Our target is to keep small goals and knock them off one by one.

"I'm really pleased with my innings so far but now it's about going on and making it a big one, building a partnership with Jonny and trying to get a lead."

Root's may have been the headline performance, and possibly his finest in the Three Lions of England, but he credited Ben Stokes with showing him the way.

Stokes could not replicate his record-breaking double century from Cape Town but a punchy 58 proved inspirational to his partner.

"He takes pressure of you at the other end when he comes in an plays that way, that aggressively," explained the Yorkshire batsman.

"It's just natural, when you see someone scoring like that at the other end and putting the bowlers under pressure it brings that out in your own game as well.

"The way we batted, especially when we tried to put them back under pressure, was really important to us."

South Africa's position in the match is not the only thing concerning cricket fans in the Rainbow Nation, with new reports suggesting two capped Test players are being investigated for alleged corruption.

The Daily Mail made the claim on Friday, as Cricket South Africa's probe into match-fixing in its RAM SLAM Twenty20 competition continues.

Neither player is said to have been involved in the current series, but both are described as "active" cricketers.

CSA is aware of the latest reports but told Press Association Sport: "No comment can be made as an investigation is still ongoing."

Gulam Bodi, who played two one-day internationals and one Twenty20 for South Africa in 2007, was named this week as the 'intermediary' charged in December under CSA's anti-corruption code, but there has been widespread speculation that other names would follow.