Joe Root says he will “hold dear forever” what Ben Stokes said to him on the eve of his 100th Test match for England; captain Root became third Englishman to mark occasion with ton, after Colin Cowdrey and Alec Stewart, as he closed day one against India unbeaten on 128
Last Updated: 05/02/21 2:35pm
England captain Joe Root says he will “hold dear forever” the tribute paid to him by Ben Stokes before he went on to score a century in his 100th Test against India in Chennai.
Root hit his third hundred in as many games in 2021 with an unbeaten 128 on the day he racked up a century of Tests, become the third Englishman – after Colin Cowdrey and Alec Stewart – to mark the occasion with a ton.
The 30-year-old said he was inspired by a video package and words from vice-captain Stokes on the eve of the match, with the latter now back in the England squad after being rested for the recent series win in Sri Lanka.
Root told reporters after day one of the series opener: “The guys put together a little surprise for me [on Thursday night] with some videos of past players and friends and family.
“Ben, in particular, stood up and said some very kind words. The guys have made it very special for me and I really appreciate it.
“I think [what was said] should stay between the two of us and the group but Ben’s a fine human being and it was really nice of him to go out of his way to say some very special things that I will hold dear forever.
“I was a little bit emotional [at the toss]. I couldn’t even remember our team when I was asked about it.
“I was a little bit all over the place but thankfully when I got out there I knew it was business as normal and I had a job to do.”
I invested in a Peloton and have done a lot of work on that. I have tried to make my back a little bit more manageable and also make my legs and backside a little bit stronger. A combination of those things has had a significant impact on my game and I will continue to keep working on that side of improving my skills as a player. Physically I feel as in good a shape as I ever have.
Joe Root on how he has improved his fitness
Root was delighted with his personal achievement – a 20th Test ton and fifth against India – and has challenged himself to keep churning out the runs, with his haul in Test cricket in 2021 so far standing at 554 having made scores of 228 and 186 against Sri Lanka in Galle.
He said: “I certainly feel like I am in good form and I need to cash in on it. Over the course of my career I have not always gone on and made really big scores so for me to be doing that currently is really pleasing.
“If I keep getting in positions to make big hundreds, I need to keep taking them. We are going to win more games if I am doing that.
“I have tried to improve as a player and at the moment it appears to be working nicely. The challenge now is can I keep getting better all the time?”
Root’s superb stats
– Root has now made at least one score of fifty or more in all seven of his Tests in India. Only one man has ever made fifties in more matches in a row in India – Javed Miandad – who achieved the feat in eight matches from January 1980 to February 1987.
Root’s milestones vs India
Joe Root’s first, 50th and 100th Tests have come against India. He is the third player to have that triumvirate of stats against the same side, following Colin Cowdrey and Geoffrey Boycott, whose debuts, 50th and 100th Tests all came against Australia.
– Root became the ninth batsman to score a century in his 100th Test, after Cowdrey, Stewart, West Indies’ Gordon Greenidge, Pakistan’s Javed Miandad and Inzamam-ul-Haq, South Africa’s Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla and Australia’s Ricky Ponting. Ponting scored twin centuries in his 100th Test, against South Africa in Sydney in 2005/06.
– Root is the first to score centuries in his 98th, 99th and 100th Tests, hitting 228 in his 98th game, 186 in his 99th and now an unbeaten 128 in his 100th.
– The last England batsman to score centuries in three successive Tests before Root was Sir Alastair Cook, who scored 176, 122 and 190 in successive matches on the 2012 tour of India. Only one England batsman has scored centuries in four successive Tests and that was Ken Barrington – who did it twice – in 1961 and 1967-68.
Root urges England to go big
Root’s 200-run partnership with Dom Sibley (87) for the third wicket saw England close on 263-3 and the skipper has urged his side to post a mammoth score as they look to hammer home their advantage against an India side who have lost just one of their previous 34 home Test matches.
Sibley was out to the final ball of the day – lbw to Jasprit Bumrah in the bowler’s first Test on home soil – so Stokes is set to join Root in the middle first thing on day two.
Sibley and Root shared the first double-century partnership by opposition batsmen in a Test in India since Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell added 208 for the fourth wicket in England’s second innings at Nagpur in 2012 – coincidentally Root’s debut Test
Root added: “We need to get as many as we can, 600,700 if we can, really make the most of the first innings.
“The footholes are starting to wear quite quickly so if we can bat the whole of day two and maybe into day three then things could speed up quite quickly for us.
“You never know what can happen from that point onwards. Ultimately we have to look to back up day one. It has been a really impressive start but we need to make it count. That is going to be the challenge for this tour.
“Any side would welcome Ben back into the fold with both arms and we certainly do. He is much more than the player people see on their screens.
“He is a leader within our team, has a huge heart and leaves everything out on the field for his team-mates. For him to be back is a real boost for all of us and I am excited to see him go about his work in this series.”
Follow over-by-over text commentary from day two of the first Test between India and England in Chennai from 3.55am on Saturday on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app.