JOE ROOT evoked the spirit of legendary Brian Close as he shrugged off being hit on the helmet first ball by his international team-mate Stuart Broad to help steer Yorkshire to a draw against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
The England Test captain took a leaf out of the Close book of bravery as he bounced back from that blow to score 130 not out, his seventh County Championship hundred and his first for almost three years.
All that was missing from the comparison with the former Yorkshire and England captain, perhaps, was the sight of Root chain-smoking and consulting a copy of the Racing Post while barking instructions to a bookmaker down his mobile phone.
Levity aside, it was a performance of which the famously fearless Close would have been justly proud, with Root – who needed painkillers and a new helmet after his bang on the head, which resulted in an eight-minute delay – withstanding a succession of short balls on a pitch on which bowlers had to bend their backs to gain reward.
“It dented the ego more than anything,” laughed Root, who shared in a third-wicket stand of 253 with Gary Ballance (101 not out) as Yorkshire – set a notional 447 to win – batted out the final day to reach 277-2.
“You expect someone with 400 Test wickets to come hard at you and, fair play to Stuart, he got it right on the money.
“The ball took me a little bit by surprise and kept a bit low, but it was that sort of wicket and there was a little bit of uneven bounce.
“It was a good battle out there; I thought they bowled extremely well and put us under pressure, and it was really pleasing to see Gary play as well as he did.”
Root, whose previous three-figure score for Yorkshire was 213 against Surrey at Headingley in May 2016, makes his final Championship appearance for the time being in the game against Hampshire at Southampton that starts on Thursday.
Although he made eight and two on his last Championship visit there in 2017, his first and only other Championship appearance at the ground saw him strike 222 not out in 2012.
“It’s nice to be going down there on the back of a few runs, but I’m on nought next time,” added Root, who also sustained a blow to his left hand while fielding on the third day.
“Luckily the head and hand feel fine and I’ve got a couple of days to rest up and try and take this form forward into the Hampshire game.
“If we’re being brutally honest as a side we were behind the game for the majority of it against Notts; they played all the cricket and might feel a little hard done by not to get more out of the game.
“But we showed great character and fight to make sure that they didn’t, and we’ll take that confidence forward definitely.”
Tim Bresnan returns to the squad for the Hampshire fixture following a back injury.
Match report: Page 19