Yorkshire v Derbyshire: Momentum with Yorkshire again after Root and Bairstow shine

Joe Root celebrates his double century.Joe Root celebrates his double century.
Joe Root celebrates his double century.
ON the stroke of noon, Joe Root drove a delivery from Derbyshire pace bowler Jonathan Clare to the cover boundary in front of the West Stand.

It was an ostensibly minor moment in a career-best innings of 236, Root regally banishing a full-length ball with typical grace.

But contained within that single shot was the key to this young man’s remarkable rise, for just two balls earlier he had run out Phil Jaques in calamitous style, calling his partner through for a single when Jaques cut Clare to backward point.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wayne Madsen, the fielder, fumbled before throwing to the non-striker’s end, Jaques stranded by a country mile as he ran past Root and sacrificed his wicket.

As Jaques walked off, his disappointment kept well-hidden in a manner befitting the ultimate team man, Root banged his bat into the ground in self-recrimination, his annoyance with himself plain to see.

Exactly a week earlier, he had also run-out Jaques in Yorkshire’s match against Durham at Chester-le-Street, dropping a delivery from Graham Onions into the offside and changing his mind about a single, with Jaques left stranded at the non-striker’s end.

But Root’s classical cover-driven four off Clare, moments after this latest mix-up, highlighted a principal reason for his precipitous climb.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

For it is Root’s ice-cool temperament and ability to put such things out of his mind immediately and focus on the next delivery, so unusual for a player aged just 22, that explains why he has become one of English cricket’s hottest properties.

Of course, Root would not have achieved anything without innate natural talent, and his consummate skill was again in evidence on a third day which Yorkshire closed on 597-5 in reply to Derbyshire’s first innings 475, Jonny Bairstow showcasing his superlative skills with a magnificent innings of 186, just 19 short of his own career-best.

Yorkshire’s two young England stars, both of whom could be making their last Championship appearances for some time due to international commitments, shared a fourth-wicket stand of 231 in 51 overs and were too good for a workmanlike Derbyshire attack shorn of pace bowler Tony Palladino, who was kept in the pavilion with a side strain.

Bairstow was back to his brutal best, with trademark drives scorching the grass and four times soaring over the rope altogether, while Root is in the midst of a purple patch that has brought him 467 runs already this season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Four days after scoring 182 at Chester-le-Street, an innings that near single-handed inspired Yorkshire’s fourth-highest run-chase, Root went even bigger in the Headingley sunshine, his strokeplay carrying the quality of sunshine itself as he made the highest innings by a Yorkshire player at Headingley since Darren Lehmann’s 339 against Durham in 2006.

It was Root’s sixth three-figure score in first-class cricket, four of which have exceeded 150, his appetite for runs matched only by his avaricious hunger to accumulate them.

As the boundaries flowed and the bowlers floundered, one would not have put it past him to have eclipsed Lehmann and the highest innings in Yorkshire’s history – the 341 by George Hirst against Leicestershire at Aylestone Road in 1905.

But at 5pm, with the ground bathed in golden light and soft shadow, Root was bowled around his legs trying to sweep the occasional off-spin of Dan Redfern.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was a tired stroke by a man who had faced 336 balls, 24 of them struck to the boundary, but Root’s disappointment was eased by the avalanche of applause that followed him from the field, plenty of it delivered by the Derbyshire players, who, as Yorkshire’s had done the previous day, after Chesney Hughes’s unbeaten 270, sportingly recognised an opponent’s achievement.

Root, whose previous best was 222 not out against Hampshire at Southampton last year, admitted that the unfortunate run-out of Jaques spurred him on to greater endeavour.

“It’s never nice being involved in anything like that, especially two in two games, but I just tried to blot it out and you almost have to score runs for two people,” he said.

“I called ‘yes’ and he said ‘no’ but it’s part of cricket and I just have to try to learn from it and improve on it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It was a good way to keep myself motivated, and, once I got in, I tried to be as greedy as possible because 60s and 70s don’t really win you games; you’ve got to go on and get big scores.

“I’ve not felt this good in the middle for a long time, but it can change very quickly and you just don’t know when your next good ball’s coming or your next drought’s coming, but Jonny’s was a fantastic knock and he’s the one who’s got us into this position now where we’re ahead in the game and hopefully we can kick on from here and try to bowl them out.”

Root began the day on 75 as Yorkshire resumed on 164-1 and he was soon into his stride, driving handsomely and picking out gaps with unerring precision.

Beginning with the run-out of Jaques, however, Yorkshire lost their way for the only time in the day in the hour before lunch as Andrew Gale drove David Wainwright to mid-off and runs dried up momentarily, a period that ultimately cost Yorkshire maximum batting points as they fell 19 runs short at 381-3 come the 110-over cut-off mark.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But in every other respect they were utterly dominant on a placid pitch as Root and Bairstow treated the crowd to a boys-against-men exhibition that afforded sumptuous entertainment.

Bairstow had a life on 113 when Redfern dropped – if “dropped” is the right word – a vicious return chance but Bairstow attacked in masterly fashion, also striking 21 fours in his 193-ball stay, ended when he clipped Wes Durston to Tim Groenewald at backward square-leg.

Bairstow added 117 in just 15 overs with Gary Ballance, who ended unbeaten on 50 from 53 balls, and although the pitch is flatter than a stale pint of beer the momentum is with a Yorkshire team who lead by 122.