England captain Joe Root frustrated by lack of form as Test series looms
Joe Root has admitted his frustration at not being able to find form for during their past two County Championship games, although the England Test captain was at least able to take a glimpse into the future having seen Ollie Pope and Sam Curran shine for Surrey during their innings victory achieved on the morning of day four.
Root’s brief return to county colours before the international summer has yielded scores of 0, 35, 14 and 23 in a and defeat here. He will now turn his attentions to squad selection for the first Test against Pakistan a week on Thursday and meet the new national selector Ed Smith on Tuesday.
“When you come back to Yorkshire, you want to perform and give a bit back to the side. It’s been a little bit disappointing,” said Root, who led Yorkshire at the Oval owing to Gary Ballance’s illness. “But that’s cricket, it can be challenging.
“I didn’t come into these games to get ready for the Test matches. I made sure I did my preparation beforehand to try to perform well for Yorkshire. It’s just not materialised, unfortunately. That’s just how it can go.”
Root and the Yorkshire coach, Andrew Gale, bemoaned missed opportunities in the field during the first day as the primary reason for their defeat, with the 20-year-old Pope nearly run out on the way to a career‑best 158 not out as recovered from 162 for six to post 414 on a pitch which offered help for the seamers all the way through. This was their second win from four matches.
Alongside Pope, their other hero was the 19-year-old left-arm seamer Curran, who claimed six wickets in the first innings and finished with his first 10-wicket match haul – 10 for 101.
Root said: “Their two young lads were very impressive. On a wicket that offered a bit, Ollie played really well. He has a good all‑round game and put our bowlers under pressure. Sam bowled nicely. To back it up having enforced the follow-on was impressive.”
Meanwhile, both of the remaining Division two games ended in draws, despite the best efforts of Mark Wood who, in his first game since leaving the IPL early, took a career-best 6-46 for Durham in Derbyshire’s second innings. Wood reverse-swung the ball with alacrity, but Derby resisted on a dry pitch, finishing on 279 for 9.
At Lord’s, 21-year-old wicketkeeper James Bracey saved the game for Gloucestershire with an unbeaten 125 against Middlesex, his third Championship century. “It’s good enough just to play at Lord’s,” he said. “I wanted to enjoy the occasion and I’ve surpassed myself, so I’m really happy.” Bracey, who was born in Bristol and is in the final year of his degree at Loughborough University, signed a two-summer contract with Gloucestershire in March.
At the end of the first five rounds of Championship games, Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire top and tail Division One; Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Division Two. The next round of matches begins on 9 June.
O’Brien scores another memorable century to give Ireland hope against Pakistan
Kevin O’Brien produced another memorable international century to leave Ireland’s inaugural Test with Pakistan fascinatingly poised following the hosts’ spirited fourth-day fightback.
Seven years after O’Brien smashed the quickest World Cup ton in a match-winning innings against England, he went into three figures again, making 118 not out as Ireland, who had been made to follow-on, progressed to 319 for seven – a 139-run lead.
With showers possible today, all results still appear possible when it had seemed like a Pakistan victory was a foregone conclusion at the start of yesterday play.
Resuming on 64 without loss, still 116 in arrears, the sight of Mohammad Amir moving gingerly due to a knee problem would have provided encouragement, particularly when he did not open the bowling. As it was, he was not needed at first. Joyce, with 43, was run out by Faheem Ashraf’s direct hit and there was a pair for Andrew Balbirnie, who was once more trapped in front by Mohammad Abbas.
Niall O’Brien and Porterfield could both have been run out but did not make the most of their second lives as Amir produced a brilliant spell. Two of O’Brien’s stumps were uprooted, before Amir finally found Porterfield’s outside edge, with Sarfraz Ahmed taking a smart catch to send back Ireland’s captain for 32.
Amir secured his 100th Test wicket with the dismissal of Gary Wilson with Stuart Thompson becoming victim number 101, but he, along with Kevin O’Brien, took 14 off two Amir overs to bring Ireland within touching distance of moving in front.
They did so via Kevin O’Brien’s edge through the vacant second-slip region for four and the 34-year-old soon became Ireland’s first male Test half-centurion with a clip through point from his 186th ball. PA