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Root Seals England trump New Zealand

Former captain Joe Root gave his successor Ben Stokes the perfect start to his reign as he lifted England to victory with a century of victories in the first Test against New Zealand on Sunday.

Root, who resigned as skipper in April after five years and a record 64 games in charge, produced a game-breaking 115 not out to set up a five-wicket win at Lord’s.

In an icy partnership with Ben Foakes, who had an undefeated 32 on a 120 stand, Root led his team to a hard-fought 277 chase with his first-ever fourth-inning cent.

A rejuvenated Joe Root admitted his reign as England captain had descended into “an unhealthy relationship”, forcing his decision to quit earlier this year.

The experiences of being the team leader during the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a humiliating 4-0 Ashes and defeat in the West Indies, left him exhausted and he finally decided to hand over the baton. to his vice-captain Ben Stokes.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“To be honest, it had become a very unhealthy relationship, the captain and I,” he said.

“It started to really hurt my personal health. I couldn’t leave him on the ground anymore, he was coming home.

“It wasn’t fair to my family, my loved ones and it wasn’t fair to me either.

“I had thrown everything at it and was determined to help turn this team around, but I realized during that time at home that it would have to be in a different way.

“I’m very excited to do this now and to do everything I can to help Ben really transform this team and make this team the strength it should and can be.

“I’m proud of the way I played the role. I will do everything I can to help England win Test matches and be a team that people love to watch and can be proud of.

“It got to the stage where it was time for someone else to lead this, but I can try to influence him in a different role, in a different way.

“I threw absolutely everything into the role and I’m proud of how I tried to do it.”

In the win over New Zealand, Root became just the second Englishman to reach 10,000 tries, following in the footsteps of his own predecessor Sir Alastair Cook.

The symmetry of their exploits doesn’t end there, with both men being exactly 31 years and 157 days old when they crossed the threshold.

Root Seals England trump New Zealand

(Photo by Morgan Hancock/Action Plus via Getty Images)

It was Root’s 26th ton overall, the same as West Indian great Sir Garfield Sobers, but he will be even happier with his importance to the team.

England were marginal favorites going into the restart at 5-216, with 61 points still needed, but the equation still looked strained.

With thick, gray clouds overhead and the dazzling floodlights of the first pitch, conditions were less than ideal for hitting.

A flimsy tail, featuring at least three natural number 11s, also heightened the responsibility for Root and Foakes’ nighttime pairing.

But a game that went back and forth with a series of twists along the way was put to bed in an unusually serene way.

New Zealand had hoped to hang on and use the second new ball to work some magic, but they couldn’t stop England’s scoring and couldn’t even unbox a new Dukes.

Root started 77th on 98 runs in innings and 9998 in his career and dispatched pacemaker Tim Southee at half-wicket for a couple to make a proud double.

He then finished the job in a blaze of glory, taking on Southee for three limits in an over as he finished things off with a merry mid-wicket swing.

Root Seals England trump New Zealand

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Root, named player of the match, said winning meant more to him than his century or hitting the 10,000 tries milestone.

“Obviously it’s fantastic. More than anything, first of all, for us to have won this test match after so long is the greatest feeling of all,” he said.

“Hopefully we can really use this as a way to leap forward as a group.

“I love the group of players we play with and I couldn’t wish for a better person to lead this team.”

Stokes was pleased with how the English summer and his captaincy had started.

“It was a great test match. It always seems to be for England against New Zealand at Lord’s, but it was a fantastic test match to be in,” said the all-rounder, who contributed to the run- pursuit with 54.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re captain, the first test match of the summer has always been buzzing, but obviously it was a special week. Coming away with the win obviously makes it even better.


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