Dawson picked for Lord's Test, Ballance back at three

Joe Root has had time to get used to the idea of being captain but the reality is about to dawn

Joe Root has had time to get used to the idea of being captain but the reality is about to dawn

In Joe Root, England have a tough, determined new leader and one many feel is going nowhere except to take his side to the top of the rankings. Danger had been transformed into dominance.

"It's up to us to set the tone in the right way". Surely not. Gravity dictates it can not always be this good. "He looks very at home and he will complement the rest of the attack as well". After that it was all easy control. It was that sort of day.

'Gary is going to bat at three.

But just as Root looked to rebuild with his Yorkshire team-mate Bairstow, the latter was trapped lbw for ten, again to Philander, who had figures of 3-26 at the interval.

SA have since played 11 Tests, of which they have won seven and lost only one‚ along the way claiming two series against New Zealand and one each against Australia and Sri Lanka. That was also against the South Africans, at the Oval, in August 2008. Root must be hoping to do a bit better than that. Despite being born a year and 5,000 miles apart - Root in Dore, Ballance on a Zimbabwean tobacco farm - the two played for Yorkshire's Academy together, were "capped" on the same day and later shared a house near Bradford.

Joe Root, the new England captain, was 79 not out and vice-captain Ben Stokes 52 not out, with their unbroken stand worth 106 runs.

Fully in command on a pitch dried out by the sun, Root drove Maharaj for six over long-off.

While the Yorkshireman has since been central to national plans too in various white-ball campaigns - most recently a home Champions Trophy - Broad has been in action for Nottinghamshire and plotting how to kick-start Root's captaincy.

Stokes went to a well crafted fifty just before tea and England went to the break on 182 for 4.

Joe Root forged a crucial partnership of 167 with Moeen Ali. He finished with an unbeaten 61 of his own. If you need to play carefully for a period in order to win a Test or series, then that is what you must do.

Now there are fears the 34-year-old may not be the player he was, with South Africa batting great Barry Richards saying last week: "One of the key parts of the series is Hashim Amla versus the fast bowlers and Hashim Amla versus himself".

Led by Vernon Philander at his plucky best, they had England 82/4 at lunch.

Among those lucky to escape was Andrew Strauss in August 2008 when he was caught at leg gully after a crafty field placing from then-captain Graeme Smith only to survive because Morkel had overstepped. "He is desperate to prove a point and score some runs in this series", Root said.

The depressing thing about the Proteas' opening day in the first Test against England at Lord's is that it confirmed everything that was feared about the team's state of mind. What if the youth and brittleness of this team was its defining feature?

South Africa nearly had them. Their brief promise gave way to huge frustration.

It was not until the afternoon that England began to reach calmer waters.

Latest News