Joe Root made the most of his good fortune and substantial skill as he marked his first day as Test captain with a century England badly needed against South Africa at Lord’s.
Root (184no) survived two early scares on his way to a 150-ball hundred which contained 15 fours and aided his team’s recovery after Vernon Philander had taken three early wickets.
The new skipper shared century stands for the fifth and sixth wickets with Ben Stokes (56) and Moeen Ali (61no) respectively to see his side to 357 for five at stumps on day one of the first Investec Test.
Here, we look at four things we learned from the opening day of the first Test.
When Joe Root paddle-swept slow left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj for his 12th Test Century, he became the sixth England captain overall and the fourth in succession to score a ton on captaincy debut.
His predecessors: Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen all reached triple figures on their captaincy bows and Root’s 112 placed him in illustrious company.
The 26-year-old finished the day unbeaten on 184 off just 227 deliveries to demoralise a South Africa attack that had started strong.
Root’s knock came with a slice of good fortune (he was dropped twice) but, for the most part, he looked in fine fettle.
He was busy as usual at the crease, nudging the bowlers around and not allowing them to settle in typical Root fashion. He will be looking to complete a double century on Friday and take his side to an imposing total in the first innings.
The South Africans have always been a great fielding side and England would have expected more of the same coming into this match.
However, it was the Proteas’ fielding which gave away their early initiative and allowed England to creep back into the game. Root might have scored a masterful hundred on Test debut but the picture could have been very much different if the South Africans had not thrown away two golden opportunities to send him back to the pavilion before lunch.
A top edge off a Kagiso Rabada bouncer flew over the head of substitute fielder Aiden Markram when Root was just on five – the young South African should have been much closer to the boundary ropes.
Root got another reprieve a few overs later on 16 when he flashed hard at a Rabada delivery outside off stump. Unfortunately, for the tourists, it evaded the hands of the usually reliable J.P Duminy.
If you ever want someone to lead an inquest into the technique of the openers, there is no better man than Vernon Philander.
The South African’s gentle approach to the crease on his run up is a stark contrast to the wild seam movements he generates with the red ball.
After some initial no-ball troubles, Philander settled into his role of oppressor in chief testing the England left-handed opening pair of Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings to the hilt.
He got Cook to play away from his body for a straightforward edge to Quinton de Kock for just three early on and his next victim, Jennings, was adjudged LBW for only eight. Replays showed that the ball had pitched outside leg though so Jennings will be left ruing his decision to not review.
There were no doubts over his third dismissal though as he caught Jonny Bairstow plumb in front of stumps for 10. Philander troubled batsmen all day long with his probing seamers and he will be a handful in the English conditions through the course of the four Tests.
While there were murmurs of Chris Morris being selected in a five-man bowling attack for South Africa, they decided to go with four specialist bowlers in Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj and Morne Morkel.
Philander provided them with an excellent start but the rest of the attack did not create enough pressure on the batsmen as the day wore on.
Rabada of course could have had Root and although it wasn’t his best day, the 22-year-old will learn from the experience.
Once Root was in his zone, the bowlers had few answers to stop him as he built two crucial partnerships with Ben Stoke and Moeen Ali who both went on to complete their half-centuries.
South Africa ran out of options by the end of the day having to turn to the part time of Temba Bavuma and the inexperienced Theunis de Bruyn. Stand-in skipper Elgar will feel he could have done with an extra seamer in there but for now he will hope that his four bowlers can get South Africa back in the game.
India and Australia maintained their perfect records after defeating Sri Lanka and Pakistan respectively while England got the better of South Africa in the ICC Women’s World Cup on Wednesday.
For India, it was the third-wicket partnership between Deepti Sharma (78) and Mithali Raj (53) that set up the victory. The duo put on 118 runs as India reached 232-8 in their 50 overs.
In reply, Dilani Manodara top-scored for Sri Lanka with 61, but it wasn’t enough as they lost by 16 runs in the end.
Jhulan Goswami and Poonam Yadav were the most successful bowlers for India, with both taking two wickets each.
In the match at Leicester, Ellyse Perry (66), Elyse Villani (59), and Alyssa Healy (63*) guided Australia to 290-8 in their 50 overs against Pakistan.
Chasing 291, Pakistan were never really in the game as they lost wickets at regular intervals. They were eventually bowled out for 131 off the final delivery of the innings with Australia’s Kristen Beams and Ashleigh Gardner picking up three wickets each and Jess Jonassen bowling an incredible six maidens in 10 overs.
Sana Mir put up a fighting all-round performance for Pakistan, taking three wickets before scoring 45 with the bat.
At Bristol, England’s Tamsin Beaumont (148) and Sarah Taylor (147) recorded the highest-ever partnership across all editions of the Women’s World Cup as they put on 275 runs for the second wicket against South Africa.
Beaumont and Taylor’s partnership helped the hosts to a score of 373-5 in their 50 overs.
On the back of half-centuries from Lizelle Lee (72), Laura Wolfvaardt (67) and Chloe Tryon (54), South Africa managed 305-9 in their 50 overs, losing by 68 runs.
A total of 678 runs were scored in the match, a record in women’s ODIs.
New England Test captain Joe Root has announced that Hampshire all-rounder Liam Dawson will face South Africa in the first Investec Test at Lord’s.
Dawson made his Test debut against India in Chennai and has got the nod ahead of Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones.
Root, named as Alastair Cook’s successor five months ago, will lead an England side featuring two spin bowlers – Dawson and Moeen Ali – in a Lord’s Test for the first time since 1993.
Recalled Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance is set to bat at three, with Root coming in at four followed by Jonny Bairstow.
Root is relishing the opportunity to experience the thrill of being Test captain for the first time on Thursday, and hopes to be able to retain England’s more aggressive approach following on from the limited overs and Twenty20 set-up.
“Of course it is a different format, and at times that might not allow it, but I would like to think so,” Root said on Sky Sports News HQ.
“One of the things is to be quite natural in terms of the way I will go about things.
“I would like to think I am quite proactive to my approach to batting in cricket, so hopefully that will rub up on the rest of the lads and the way we go about things out on the field.”
Root has confidence Ballance can deliver higher up the order.
“He has had his success in an England shirt when he has batted at three, so his game is in good order, he has played very well this season and does look a different player to last time he represented England,” Root added.
“I know the sort of person he is, and I am sure he is determined to show everyone he is capable of performing at this level.”
Root revealed he had taken plenty of advice over what may lie ahead when the 26-year-old walks out at Lord’s in the captain’s blazer for the first time.
“It has felt forever since that announcement, so now I am really looking forward to the next five days,” Root said on BBC Sport.
“I have been speaking to a few people, and thinking about how I want things to go because I want to be quite natural and instinctive when I get out there, with a good balance of both.
“I spoke to a few of the players, ex-captains as well, and it was nice to pick their brains to see what they went through in their tenure, to get prepared for what is around the corner.
“Most England captains have had something to deal with, but I just see it as a great opportunity, it is a very exciting group of players, and around the squad as well, so I am really excited of what we can produce in the future.”