England’s Joe Root admits 14-month Test hundred drought consumed his mind too much after finally ending slump with unbeaten 168 against Sri Lanka, insisting ‘I made too big a deal of it… it’s been to my detriment’
- Joe Root hit 168 not out as England extended commanding lead over Sri Lanka
- The England captain finally ended his 14-month Test hundred drought in Galle
- He has since admitted that his slump in form had consumed his thoughts of late
- Alongside him, debutant Dan Lawrence posted an eye-catching score of 73
Joe Root ended a 14-month Test hundred drought in spectacular style to enhance England’s dominant position against Sri Lanka in Galle.
England captain Root hit an unbeaten 168 to address a sub-standard conversion rate – this was only his second time to three figures in 18 matches – which has consumed his thoughts during recent times.
‘I tried to get away from it. For the last year, two years, I’ve over-thought it massively — made too big a deal of it in my own mind. Hyped it up and probably because of that it’s been to my detriment,’ he said.
Joe Root has enjoyed an excellent start to England’s Tour of Sri Lanka, posting an unbeaten 168
Root’s fine batting has put England in an even more commanding position against Sri Lanka
‘So I tried very much to get in a one-on-one contest with each individual bowler and not to think about anything other than ticking off one run at a time with the guy at the other end, building a partnership as much as we could.’
The 18th of his career (in addition to 49 half-centuries) was similar to his 17th – an innings of 226 against New Zealand in November 2019 – as he cashed in to open England’s advantage to 185 runs with six wickets intact by the close of a second day sandwiched by heavy rain.
Although Jonny Bairstow departed soon after a delayed start, with England still in arrears, Root ploughed on alongside Dan Lawrence who struck an eye-catching 73 in his maiden international innings.
‘I have always been desperate to try to convert those 50s to big scores but generally when I get to 100 I really make it count,’ he added.
The England skipper had to wait 14 months for his last Test hundred, against New Zealand
‘The previous couple of hundreds I got came at the end of series, so to get one at the start of a very long winter is very exciting to take into the rest of the games.’
Essex’s Lawrence was key to developing what Root said was a ‘brilliant start’ by a team that entered 2021 without senior players like Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes for one reason or another.
The 23-year-old, batting in Stokes’ usual position of 5, brought the flair to the top level that has been the talk of the domestic scene since he struck a hundred against Surrey at the age of 17.
‘He showed why he deserved his opportunity to play and hopefully it’s the start of something very special for him,’ Root said.
Dan Lawrence produced an eye-catching 73 on his England debut in the first Test in Galle
But Sri Lanka bowling coach David Saker blasted his side’s failure to play on the new boy’s nerves in what should have been testing conditions.
‘Obviously, when a person is coming in for his debut you want to put as much pressure on as you can and in our first 10 deliveries to him we bowled three full tosses and two or three half-trackers,’ Saker said.
‘If you’re 10 off 10 balls, you probably feel pretty comfortable. We didn’t make him uncomfortable at all and that was very disappointing.
‘Usually Sri Lanka, facing spinners with fielders around the bat, is one of the most daunting places to come but we gifted him some easy balls to get his innings going.’
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