London: Senior England batter Joe Root reflected on his tough time as Test captain, saying it wasn’t enjoyable when the team was facing losses and after relinquishing captaincy in longest format of the game, he is now excited for the team’s future under the leadership of Ben Stokes.
Root was the difference between win and loss for England, slamming an unbeaten 115 to ace the chase of 277, leading the hosts’ to a five-wicket win over New Zealand on day four of Lord’s Test and rightfully adjudged ‘Player of the Match’.
“A lot of people will talk about my personal performances, run-wise, but it’s never enjoyable when you’re losing. For us to start like this under Ben’s leadership, it’s a really exciting time. Of course, it (resignation as captain) is (hard) but I’d thrown everything at it and it was starting to take an unhealthy effect on the rest of my life. I couldn’t leave it in the car or at the ground. It was taking a toll on myself and my family,” said Root after the match.
Root further said that he will always be there for Stokes whenever he needs him. “I’ve made it very clear that I’ll always be whenever he (Stokes) needs me to be, as he was for me. I want to make sure that if there’s any way I can shoulder a bit for him, I’ll do that for him as he did for me.”
With a flick through leg-side for a brace against Tim Southee, Root completed his 26th Test hundred and also crossed the 10,000 Test runs milestone, becoming only the 14th cricketer and just the second Englishman after Sir Alastair Cook to achieve the landmark to make the match more memorable for England.
“It feels good for us to win a Test match. It feels like such a long time. Great to start strongly under Ben and Brendon and a great chance for us to kick on. It (family at Lord’s) feels how it should be, in many ways. There’s things we did through the pandemic to keep the game going… it feels good to have it back to how it should be. It (walking out on day four) was quite emotional, to be honest with you. It was very special,” added Root.
Asked where the match turned in England’s favour, Root pointed towards him getting more proactive after the fall of Stokes for 54. “There was a specific moment in the game when it turned for us, the second time they changed that ball. It didn’t swing as much as the one they had previously. It was quite a slow wicket.”
“They ended up putting some sweepers out for me which I enjoy. I thought Ben was very smart. You saw that match-up with the left-arm spinner (Ajaz Patel) – that was a really important over. Once I was in and I felt comfortable, trying to get ahead of it last night was a smart play. That was a really important factor in what we were trying to do.”
Stokes had a reprieve when he survived a clean bowled dismissal off Colin de Grandhomme.
“We knew that if me and Ben had a partnership this morning, we’d be close to it. As soon as we got 10 or 20, there would be more chances for us to score. It was nice to give the crowd their money back. I’m sure the MCC won’t be too happy with that,” stated Root.
Root signed off by praising debutant pacer Matthew Potts picking 4/13 and 3/55, starting his Test career on a great note by taking out New Zealand captain Kane Williamson twice in the match.
“The lengths he bowled were brilliant. He’s got a very difficult action to pick up early on in your innings. He will get a lot of wickets in his first over because he’s hard to line up. It’s a great trait to have, to come in and perform like that in your first game shows your character.”