England’s Joe Root celebrates winning the match with Ben Foakes at Lord’s Cricket Ground, London, on Sunday. Reuters
Former England captain Joe Root scored an unbeaten century to give successor Ben Stokes a winning start to his reign with a five-wicket victory over New Zealand in the first Test at Lord’s on Sunday.
Root stood down as England skipper in April after five years and a record 64 games in charge.
But he remains far and away the team’s best batsman, with this hundred at the ‘Home of Cricket’ paving the way for just England’s second win in 18 Tests.
Victory, achieved with more than a day to spare, also put England 1-0 up in a three-match series against the reigning World Test champions.
England, set 277 to win, finished on 279 for five, with Root 115 not out — his first fourth-innings hundred at this level — after the hosts had slumped to 69 for four.
He received excellent support from wicketkeeper Ben Foakes (32 not out) in an unbroken stand of 120, with the pair denying New Zealand a breakthrough after England resumed Sunday on their overnight 216 for five.
Root became just the 14th batsman and only second from England to reach the landmark total of 10,000 career Test runs when he completed his 26th hundred at this level
Root was also the joint youngest player to score 10,000 Test runs, equalling retired England captain Alastair Cook’s record of 31 years 157 days.
New Zealand were dismissed for just 132 in their first innings, only for England to struggle to 141 in reply.
‘Mr Dependable’, Joe Root, stood up. Scoring 100 and 10,000 runs — what a player and what a man,” said Stokes at the presentation ceremony.
Player of the match Root added: “Obviously it feels fantastic. More than anything, first of all, for us to have won this Test match after such a long time is the greatest feeling of all.
“I absolutely love the group of players that we play with and I couldn’t wish for a better person to be leading this team.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, reflecting on a see-saw contest, said: “I thought both teams fought hard and we saw how difficult it was and how much it changed throughout but take nothing away from the quality of the English performance.”
England, came into this series — their first under new coach Brendon McCullum, the former New Zealand captain, bottom of the World Test Championship table.
And for all the talk of a new era, this win owed much to some of England’s most experienced players.
The recalled new-ball duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, England’s two most successful Test bowlers of all time, took valuable wickets before Root made his match-winning century.
Play resumed Sunday under an overcast sky that promised to aid New Zealand’s quicks, with Root 77 not out and England needing 61 more to win following Stokes’s dashing 54 on Saturday.
There were, however, no more specialist batsmen left, with 15 overs to go until New Zealand’s impressive pace attack would be able to take the new ball.
But England accumulated runs in steady fashion Sunday before Root drove Kyle Jamieson down the ground to go into the 90s.
Root’s legside clip off Tim Southee saw him to a 157-ball hundred including nine fours before, appropriately, he hit the winning runs by pulling the paceman for a resounding four.
Root and Stokes had hauled England back into the game from the depths of 69 for four with a fifth-wicket partnership of 90.
Stokes, however, was fortunate to be reprieved on one after being bowled off a marginal no-ball from Colin de Grandhomme.
It had seemed the decisive stand of this Test would be the 195, a New Zealand fifth-wicket record against England, shared by Daryl Mitchell (108) and Tom Blundell (96).
But just when it seemed New Zealand were about to put the game beyond England’s reach, they lost three wickets in successive balls, with Broad dismissing Mitchell and Jamieson either side of de Grandhomme’s careless run out.
The series continues at Nottingham’s Trent Bridge on Friday.