JOE ROOT made sure the payback was complete, to himself and his team, as his career-best 254 put England almost out of sight against Pakistan at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Root began day two of the second Test with an unbeaten 141 already, but was far from satisfied yet and proved the point by helping England to a mammoth 589-8 declared.
His 406-ball innings is the second-highest by any Englishman at this venue, and third in the list of top scores from a compatriot Test No 3 anywhere.
After Chris Woakes (58) first helped him with the bat in a fifth-wicket century stand and then took 3-18 in Pakistan’s 57-4, England were bang on target to level the four-match series at 1-1.
The full value of Root’s labours, in fact, were properly known – on a fine pitch – only after scoreboard pressure, and the weariness he had caused the tourists, resulted in their stumble towards stumps.
For him, the satisfaction lay in his unequivocal settling of a score after this summer’s missed opportunities – on his own admission – especially in last week’s defeat at Lord’s.
“It was very satisfying, very pleasing to finally go and make one count,” said Yorkshire’s Root.
“They were poor dismissals (at Lord’s), and I’ve worked very hard this week to try and take them out of my game – and given the opportunity, to make it count.
“That’s why I was so revved up when I got to 200, because it was a lot of hard work paying off.”
He had significant help along the way, of course – notably from captain Alastair Cook’s hundred on day one, then Woakes and county colleague Jonny Bairstow (58) in subsequent century stands.
“More than anything, I thought the way we continued to build partnerships... to take the game away from Pakistan, was exactly what we needed to do,” the Yorkshireman added.
“It could have been very easy for us to lose a couple of early wickets and let them back into the game.
“But Chris played outstandingly well in the morning, and then the guys who came in afterwards continued that.
“Then the boys with the ball were outstanding as well... so we’ve got a really good opportunity when we come back to continue applying pressure.”
Root rarely shows any signs of getting bored at the crease – but just in case, England bowling coach Ottis Gibson had a quiet (and effective) word.
“Ottis came to me at tea and said ‘if you ever get bored of batting, take a deep breath and start again’.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about that throughout the whole innings.”
Woakes has excelled himself of late, and his all-round performance here was further consolidation.
“He’s been outstanding this summer, and it’s great to see,” said Root.
“It just shows where he is with his game at the moment, coming to Cookie the previous night and saying ‘I want to do the nightwatchman – I want to get out there and play’.
“It’s great to have guys in the squad taking responsibility and wanting to stick their hand up and make a statement to the team and the opposition.”
As for Root’s restoration to No 3, a source of minor controversy as England try to fill that gap, he could be forgiven for boasting a little about the start he has made – but chose not to.
“We’ll see – I’ve only had three innings there.
“It’s very nice to get a big score early on batting at three, and I hope it’s the first of a few.”
Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower conceded they could ill-afford to lose four wickets for 26 runs in under 10 overs.
“That was extremely damaging,” he said.
“It wasn’t good enough, 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.”