A tired but satisfied Joe Root revealed some words from England’s bowling coach, Ottis Gibson, on the first day at Old Trafford were the inspiration behind the highest and longest of his 10 Test hundreds.
Root’s epic 254, spanning 10 and a quarter hours at the crease, was a battle of concentration for a batsman known for more bustling innings and followed a pep talk from Gibson at tea on the first day that stuck in his mind.
Root said: “Ottis came to me and said: ‘If you ever get bored of batting take a deep breath and start again.’ That’s what I thought about all innings. Batting for small targets but also looking at the big picture. We work hard at making scores of 500‑plus and applying scoreboard pressure.
“It’s very pleasing to finally make one count but more than anything I thought the way we built partnerships – the stuff we talk about – the guys continued to take the game away from Pakistan. It’s what we needed to do.”
Root gave praise to his team-mate Chris Woakes, who scored 58 from nightwatchman, in a stand of 103, and took three late wickets to continue a golden summer on his return to the Test side. The 27-year-old came in for Ben Stokes during the Sri Lanka series and teamed up with his fellow all-rounder during the late burst.
“We could have lost early wickets but Chris played outstandingly well,” Root said. “The boys with the ball were outstanding. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad started well and Chris and Stokesy backed them up. We have a good opportunity now to continue applying pressure and take some wickets in the morning.”
Root is the third batsmen in this England team to have scored more than 250, after Alastair Cook and Stokes – a first for the national side – and admitted the satisfaction from going so big is what drives him to succeed. “Scores like this and getting team in position like this are what you play the game for,” he said. “All those lower scores give you the drive to go on and get a big one.”
Pakistan’s batting coach, Grant Flower, lamented the fall of late wickets that leaves his side struggling going into the third day. “That was extremely damaging and it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “But we still have good players to come in and we will have to bat better second time around. There was weariness and a huge score like that plays mind tricks. But that’s what happens in Test cricket so it’s no excuse.”
Asked if overconfidence had crept in after the 75-run win for the tourists at Lord’s last week, Flower replied: “Definitely not. History shows Pakistan, after big wins, can relax but we did speak about it. So you can bring out all the cliches you want but they were not overconfident. They respect England a lot.”
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