Joe Root stakes his claim as Kevin Pietersen's England stand-in

Joe Root played the innings of the season by an England batsman for Yorkshire on Saturday to suggest that he is ready for any increased responsibility caused by the absence of Kevin Pietersen from the forthcoming challenges against New Zealand and in the Champions Trophy.

But the management will be keen for Jonny Bairstow to join Root in the runs when Yorkshire return to Headingley for another County Championship game against Derbyshire starting on Monday .

Whereas Root's 182 steered them to a famous, improbable and much needed victory target of 336 at Durham – the fourth-highest successful run chase in their history – Bairstow was out hooking for the second time in the match. He has now reached 16 in each of his five first-class innings this spring but has yet to pass 29.

A little rustiness may be understandable after a frustrating two-month tour of New Zealand in which he played only three Twenty20 innings before being thrust into the third Test in Auckland in place of Pietersen and suffering a predictable double failure. Bairstow can also point to a century in a non-competition three-day match against Lancashire at Headingley the week before last but he and England would want a more significant and substantial innings than that before he joins Root in the middle order for the first Test of the rapid-return series against New Zealand which starts at Lord's two weeks on Thursday.

A game against the Division One newcomers Derbyshire, who suffered their second consecutive defeat at the weekend at home to a Nottinghamshire team for whom Stuart Broad took eight wickets in the match, would seem a perfect opportunity for Bairstow to build form and confidence.

England might also be tempted to select him in the Lions squad for next week's four-day game against the New Zealanders in Leicester, which will be announced at some stage in the next 48 hours. However, that would not go down well with Yorkshire, who have another home Championship game against Somerset starting on Tuesday, 7 May.

Graeme Swann will start his attempt to prove his fitness for the New Zealand series when he makes his first appearance since his latest elbow operation for Notts in their home game against Durham. Swann says his elbow "has never felt better" but doubts remain over whether England would be happy to thrust him straight back into the Test team after only one first-class appearance.

Notts are also expecting him to play in two 40-over matches next week, apparently ruling out the possibility of his inclusion in the Lions squad.

Durham travelled south still in a state of shock after their defeat by Yorkshire, with their captain, Paul Collingwood, admitting his declaration had been proved wrong – although only by what he described as "an exceptional innings" by Root. "We threw everything at him and he came through it," said

Collingwood. "He has a steady head and a superb technique."

Yorkshire supporters, who had started the day fearing a second consecutive defeat to mark the worst possible start to their return to Division One, will have been almost as heartened by the contribution of Adil Rashid to the victory, as he ended unbeaten on 50.

"For Adil to come in and play as he did was fantastic," said Root.

Somerset were left frustrated by the defiance of Warwickshire's last-wicket pair Rikki Clarke and Oliver Hannon-Dalby, who denied them a first victory of the season by surviving more than22 overs at Taunton.

The game appeared up for the champions when Jack Leach, a 21-year-old left-arm spinner making only his second Championship appearance, claimed his seventh wicket of the match and Chris Wright fell to Alfonso Thomas for a duck.

But Hannon-Dalby joined Clarke, who batted for almost three hours, to block out 62 balls, and raise questions about Somerset's captain Marcus Trescothick's decision not to enforce the follow-on with a first-innings lead of 248.

Powered by article was written by Andy Wilson, for The Guardian on Sunday 28th April 2013 19.19 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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