|First Investec Test, Lord’s, day one|
|England 357-5: Root 184*, Moeen 61*, Stokes 56, Philander 3-46|
|South Africa: Yet to bat|
Joe Root scored a brilliant unbeaten 184 on his first day as England Test captain to put his side in control against South Africa.
Arriving at the crease with England 17-2, the 26-year-old then saw them slump to 74-4.
But Root steadied the ship with Ben Stokes and then made hay with Moeen Ali as England closed on 357-5.
Root was fortunate to be dropped in the gully on 16 and was later reprieved by a no-ball when stumped on 149.
Vernon Philander impressed for South Africa, removing both England openers and Jonny Bairstow cheaply.
It was Root’s day, however, as he hit the highest score by an England captain in his first game in charge.
He also follows in the footsteps of his three immediate predecessors – Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss – in marking his Test leadership debut with a ton.
England’s top order misfires again
The fragility of England’s top order meant Root was at the crease less than half an hour after the match had started.
Vernon Philander, in an accurate if not express spell, had Cook caught behind and Keaton Jennings trapped in front.
Replays showed Jennings would have been reprieved if he had reviewed the decision – the ball pitched outside leg stump – but he decided against it after consultation with Gary Ballance.
Ballance, batting at number three after being recalled for a third time, did use up a review in vain when he chose to take a second look at an all-too-familiar dismissal. Morne Morkel, bowling round the wicket, pinned the left-hander in his crease with a full, fast delivery.
When Bairstow also fell cheaply, it was left to Root and Stokes to wrest back control.
Skipper rides to England’s rescue
Root and Stokes played conservatively at first, but as the pitch proved itself a good one and the South Africa attack lost its edge, they began to accumulate at an accelerated rated throughout the afternoon session.
In warm sunshine and in front of an appreciate capacity crowd, they built a century partnership in unflustered fashion and looked set for more before Stokes was caught behind attempting to pull Rabada.
Moeen joined his skipper and the easy scoring continued, Root taking the lead role and Moeen content to stay in his shadow.
The captain’s century came up with a gentle sweep round the corner off struggling left-arm spinner Maharaj, and the two batsmen embraced as the Lord’s patrons rose to applaud them.
As the shadows lengthened the runs came quicker still, Moeen unfurling some sumptuous cover drives and Root using his feet to attack the spinners to fine effect.
By the close they had added an unbroken 167, the match transformed and South Africa looking under-cooked in this longest form of cricket after a truncated build-up featuring only one tour match and a difficult Champions Trophy.
England will resume on Friday looking to push on towards 500 and then hope the wicket dries up to assist their two spinners.
Neither will Root be satisfied yet with what he has done, a double-century in his sights as he looks to garland his captaincy debut in the best possible fashion.
‘Root took England from position of weakness to strength’ – analysis
Former England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special: “I thought England read the game well. The partnership between Root and Stokes was fantastic. Stokes was really controlled, if a little fortunate.
“The last four England captains have scored hundreds in their first match as captain but I don’t remember an innings taking the team into such a position of strength from a position of weakness.
“He batted like Joe Root and that is the most important thing.”
Vaughan on Ballance: “It was the worst possible way for Gary Ballance to get out, similar to how he has before.
“Batting at three against this quality you should be oversee that delivery.
“I don’t like the fact he is batting at three. He didn’t bat at three for the Lions and hasn’t for Yorkshire. I would have preferred him at five.”
‘A special day from start to finish’ – what they said
England captain Joe Root on Test Match Special: “It’s been a special day from start to finish, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and we’re in a nice position now as a side where we can hopefully kick on tomorrow and make a big first-innings total.
“I’ve got a bit of a cold, which has been around for the last couple of days and is a little bit frustrating, but I’ll take it if it means being able to enjoy days like today.
“You always pride yourself on runs as a player and if you want to set an example as captain it’s important you do score runs.”
South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel: “It was a very good start but the way we came out after lunch was something we are not very proud of as a bowling unit.
“There were too many loose deliveries and no-balls. It’s costly for us. I can’t really put my finger on why – it was just one of those frustrating days.
“Take nothing away from Joe Root – he rotated the strike really well – but the quality of this team is that we will come back and fight.”