Joe Root delivers T20 masterclass as Yorkshire Vikings cruise to Headingley win

Anyone who thinks that there is no place for what might be termed proper cricket shots in T20 should have been at Headingley yesterday.

By Staff Reporter
Monday, 31st August 2020, 10:16 am
Joe Root in action for Yorkshire Vikings. Picture by Richard Sellers/
Joe Root in action for Yorkshire Vikings. Picture by Richard Sellers/

They could not have been, of course, for obvious reasons, but they missed a treat of batting from Yorkshire’s Joe Root, who demonstrated that the format is not just about crash, bang, wallop but also about skill, adaptability and the ability to improvise.

Root’s 64, his third-highest T20 score for the club, was the largest contribution to Yorkshire’s 
220-5 after they won the toss, Derbyshire responding with 121-9 to lose by 99 runs in a one-sided rout.

It was also a masterclass in how to score quickly without having to throw the kitchen sink at every ball like a demented blacksmith, the cliched image of the burly fellow on the village green who tries to whack each delivery into the nearest hamlet.

Root could never be mistaken for a demented blacksmith; indeed, just about every shot from the England Test captain here oozed quality and class.

There was a late-cut for four off Alex Hughes to the third-man boundary in front of the Emerald Stand that would have been worth the price of admission had admission been allowed, a stroke that would have drawn appreciative purrs of “shot” from open-mouthed spectators as the ball sped away.

There was also an exquisitely-timed boundary off Sam Conners to the backward-point rope that was similarly well-placed, plus sundry examples of gaps being penetrated as though Root was threading the ball through the eye of a needle.

He switched to power-mode when pulling and sweeping the leg-spinner Matt Critchley for sixes during an innings that spanned 40 balls, but power comes from timing also and a wonderfully synchronised game in general, which the Yorkshireman amply exhibited again.

The Yorkshire innings was not just about Root.

On a mostly grey day, albeit with none of the pesky wet stuff that had washed out both of these sides’ opening fixtures in the competition three days earlier, Root was well supported by Adam Lyth, with whom he added 84 in nine overs after the early loss of Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who dragged to mid-wicket.

Lyth also played some glorious shots, taking a slow outfield out of the equation when lofting Michael Cohen and Hughes (twice) for leg-side sixes en route to a 26-ball half-century.

Lyth fell for 61, attempting one leg-side six too many off leg-spinner Matthew McKiernan as he picked out deep mid-wicket, which left Yorkshire 116-2 in the 12th over.

Root had a slice of luck on 42 when he drove Critchley to cover, where Billy Godleman dropped the chance on his 200th appearance for Derbyshire in all formats.

Root reached his half-century – his fourth in his last six T20 
innings for Yorkshire – from 34 balls and was third out with the total on 160 in the 16th over, sweeping McKiernan to deep mid-wicket.

Derbyshire’s bowling grew increasingly ragged, Will Fraine taking full advantage with a T20 career-best 44 not out from just 16 balls, with five sixes – four of them off full tosses, the other off a long-hop.

Fraine put the ball away expertly and received good support from Harry Brook, who struck 23 from 18 – including one extraordinary flat-batted six over long-off off Critchley, which made one wonder how on earth he managed it.

Brook and Matthew Fisher – the latter back after an abdominal injury – fell in the space of three balls in the penultimate over, both caught by Godleman at cover off Luis Reece, the latter quite brilliantly by the diving fielder.

Yorkshire lashed 22 off the final over to finish with their eighth-highest T20 total and their highest against Derbyshire.

The visitors’ reply was often embarrassing. Yorkshire were all over their opponents like a rash, Fisher striking with his first ball – the opening delivery of the second over – when a driving Reece was bowled through the gate, Wayne Madsen falling in Fisher’s next over when Jordan Thompson took a spectacular diving catch at point.

Root chipped in with two quick wickets, trapping Godleman lbw and having Leus du Plooy taken at cover, thereby reminding everyone of his all-round skills – not just those with the bat.

Josh Poysden, the leg-spinner making his first appearance for Yorkshire since the T20 match against Derbyshire at Chesterfield last July, had a reverse-sweeping Hughes skying to short third-man as the visitors fell to 38-5 in the ninth over.

Poysden struck again when Fynn Hudson-Prentice hit to cover, where Kohler-Cadmore made light of taking a ball that was travelling. Critchley, who hit the top score of 26, then lofted Brook to deep mid-wicket as the visitors fell to 76-7.

By now, the Yorkshire players were queuing up to bowl, Kohler-Cadmore using eight in total as he marshalled his troops with imagination. Fisher had McKiernan caught at long-on and George Hill nipped in with the wicket of Cohen, caught behind.

Yorkshire had lost their six previous T20 games against Derbyshire.

This was payback with knobs on.