Root eyes outside chance of coveted milestone on home turf

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IT is one of cricket’s Holy Grails.

The achievement of scoring 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May has been performed by only eight men in the game’s history, Don Bradman doing it twice to emphasise his status as a man apart.

That Yorkshire’s Joe Root went into the opening Test against New Zealand at Lord’s with a chance of emulating Bradman and company is testimony to his form of recent weeks.

Root had scored 646 runs in four first-class innings prior to the match – 49 and 182 versus Durham, 236 versus Derbyshire and 179 for England Lions against the New Zealanders.

Root thus needed a further 354 runs to reach four figures from a maximum of four available innings.

In addition to the potential two innings at headquarters, where he scored 40 in the first innings yesterday to lift his tally to 686, Root has a possible two in the second and final Test at his home ground of Headingley, which is set to finish on May 28.

Fate could certainly ordain no more fitting location for him to reach the coveted milestone.

Should Root get there at Headingley, he would either equal Bradman as the fastest to 1,000 runs before the end of May in terms of innings played (seven) or else would be the second-fastest in history with eight.

With the achievement itself an almighty lottery in terms of when games are scheduled and the number of innings available to a batsman, innings faced is the most useful criteria when it comes to measuring those who have done it.

Bradman delivered his seven-innings salvo in 1938, scoring 258 against Worcestershire, 58 against Oxford University, 137 against Cambridge University, 278 against MCC, 2 against Northamptonshire, 143 against Surrey and 145 not out against Hampshire.

The other 1,000-run achievements were considerably slower.

WG Grace, of MCC, Gloucestershire and England, took 10 innings in 1895.

Surrey’s Tom Hayward needed 13 in 1900, Gloucestershire’s Wally Hammond 13 in 1927, Lancashire’s Charlie Hallows 11 in 1928, Bradman himself 11 in 1930, Middlesex’s Bill Edrich 15 in 1938, New Zealand’s Glenn Turner 18 in 1973 and Worcestershire’s Graeme Hick 11 in 1988.

That puts any achievement performed by Root into appropriate context.

It would be a wonderful effort for the 22-year-old to get there.

Although the feat has been performed only twice since the Second World War, Nick Compton came agonisingly close last year following a remarkable start to the season with Somerset.

Compton scored 941 runs in 11 innings before his side’s match against Worcestershire at New Road on May 30 but was cruelly denied by rain at the last.

After Worcestershire batted first, Compton did not start his innings until day two, May 31, and had scored nine when the heavens opened.

He had to be content with reaching the milestone the following day, going on to accumulate 108.

Whether Root gets there or not is actually immaterial.

It would clearly be something to be celebrated, but of more importance is the strides he has taken in recent months.

Following his breakthrough winter with England, Root has returned to Yorkshire looking twice the player, while his 182 against Durham, in particular, was a technical master-class.

Should he reach 1,000 by the end of the month, you can bet that acres of newsprint will be devoted to his thoughts.

In 1938, when journalists were expected to give more of their own opinions and sportsmen not invited to say very much, Bradman left it to the media manager to say that he was “very pleased” – a delightful touch.