England vs New Zealand cricket: Joe Root and Matty Potts shine as Ben Stokes marks captaincy with a win
Joe Root hits milestone in first Test match after stepping down from captaincy.
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England’s first Test match of the summer had all the thrills and excitement cricket fans have spent the last two months in anticipation of and this ‘new era’ of England cricket stepped up to the mark.
Former captain Joe Root came out to prove he was far from finished and showed everyone what he had left to offer as he guided his team to a five-wicket win, scoring a century as well as passing the 10,000 Test run landmark.
At 31 years and 157 days of age, Root shares the honour of being joint-youngest to reach this milestone with Sir Alastair Cook.
However, Root’s century and milestone moment were far from the only highlights in England’s first Test win since summer 2021.
Both Matthew Potts and Matt Parkinson made their international debuts, with Potts taking 4 for 13 in the first innings and 3 for 55 in the second.
New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell scored a century guiding his side to 285 in the second innings while both Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson did their best to reduce England’s scoring with the former taking 4 for 55 in the first innings and the latter taking four for 79 in the second.
However, despite dramatic batting collapses from the host team in both innings, England were able to prevail and show their fans what this ‘new era’ can produce.
So what did we learn from England’s first Test match?
Some things never change
Well, it wouldn’t really be an England Test match if there wasn’t a dramatic batting collapse would it?
One thing this ‘new era’ needed to address was firming up the opening batters and providing depth down the order, but this was never going to happen overnight and it seems it’s going to take a long time for England to overcome the dreaded collapse.
In their first innings, Zak Crawley got things off to a solid start producing a fine 43 off 56 balls but England managed to go from 92/2 to 100/7 as fears rose that this Test match was going to be the same old story.
While beautiful partnerships between Joe Root and Ben Stokes, and latterly Ben Foakes guided England over the finishing line in the end, Brendon McCullum and England’s batting coach Gary Kirsten have much work to do if they are to stamp out the grim predictability of a middle-order collapse during their time in charge.
England in safe hands when veterans retire
The return of James Anderson and Stuart Broad lightened up the faces of many English cricket fans and the whole of Lord’s erupted when they both managed to produce wickets in their opening spells on the first day.
However, at 40 and 35 years of age respectively, even their most ardent fans must accept that they won’t be around the dressing room forever.
Yet, it would appear we have nothing to fear. England’s bowling options were somewhat rapidly depleting heading into the Lord’s Test match with Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, Saqib Mahmood and Ollie Robinson all out with injuries, but in came Matty Potts who fired up the wicket and quelled any fans who feared what would happen when the England’s two most prolific wicket-takers left.
In his first innings, the Durham youngster took incredible figures of four for 13 off 9.2 overs, with New Zealand captain Kane Williamson being his first wicket in international Test cricket.
The 23-year-old was far from finished when he came back in the second innings taking three more wickets and exhibiting exceptional talent.
Joe Root continues to shine
Root stepped down from the England captaincy back in April, but he is far from finished on the pitch, scoring 115* to give England their first Test win since August 2021.
How fitting that it was the former captain to provide such a feat.
He batted with complete ease and class to make his century and along with his 100 runs came the incredible milestone only 13 other batters have: 10,000 Test runs.
Speaking after the match on England’s first Test win in 2022, Root said: “It meant a huge amount to me - it felt like a long time
“I was unaware of how much (the captaincy) was grabbing hold of me.
“As soon as I made the decision I knew it was the right thing to do. I felt like a big weight had been lifted. It’s been a huge privilege and something I’m hugely proud to have done, but it’s time for a new phase in my career.”
What a way for Root to start this new phase. The cries of ‘Roooooooooooot’ around a cricket ground are set to be heard for a long time to come, and not just because he wrapped up the Test match within 15 overs on the fourth morning, giving fans in attendance a full refund on their ticket - a nice dose of Robin Hood Karma for Lord’s, who were charging on average £100+ for a ticket.
England’s next Test match starts on 10 June 2022 at Trent Bridge for their second match against New Zealand.