Joe Root says the hundred he scored on day two will be his best yet if England go on to win the series against South Africa.
England newspapers were glowing in their praise of Root’s performance on day two of the Wanderers Test where he scored his ninth Test hundred.
Root played superbly for his 106 not out and shared a 111-run partnership with Ben Stokes (58) which took the game away from South Africa in the two afternoon sessions.
England have never lost a Test in which Root made a century before so England will be hoping that trend continues at the Wanderers because if they win this Test they win the series.
Asked if this century went beyond his two against Australia during last summer’s Ashes win, Root replied: ‘Possibly but there’s going to have to be a lot of hard work to get a positive result. You’ll have to ask me at the end of the game to get a true reflection on it.
‘They way we play from here will be crucial. We will have to build some strong partnerships to form some sort of a lead. If we can do that, it gives us a good chance to put South Africa under pressure.’
Asked what lead would suffice, Root replied: ‘I’d like a lead of 250 but it’s obviously whatever we can get. We need to tick off the small goals as we go.’
On the batting of Stokes, who continued the form from his record-breaking double-century at Cape Town, Root said: ‘Ben takes the pressure off you at the other end when he plays that way and that aggressively. The slips come out, there are men on the boundary and you can run well between the wickets because of those gaps available.
‘Ben is not very talkative in the middle which is completely different to off the field. He is a great craic in the dressing room but when he is out there batting it is all about concentrating as much as possible. We saw that last week and hopefully that great form can continue because he is becoming a really strong player in Test cricket.’
Former England captain and Sky Sports commentator Nasser Hussain, writing for the Daily Mail, said Root and Stokes’s batting on day two was ‘some of the most exhilarating Test cricket we have seen for a long time. The intensity involved is what makes it the greatest format of the game’.
‘Stokes’s 258 in Cape Town was incredible but it was on a good pitch and there were no deliveries flying past his chin at 90mph. But to have the confidence to play in a similar way on this pitch was superb, Hussain wrote.
‘Root just gets better and better. I’m one for analysing players’ weaknesses, but I don’t see any in his game and he showed on Friday how accomplished he is against fast bowlers on quick pitches.’