Eng­land skip­per makes merry as he plun­ders Proteas

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

They say that the love of money is the root of all evil, but South Africa’s prob­lem was be­ing un­able to get rid of one per­sis­tent Root, for love or money.

“It was a very good start, and I en­joyed ev­ery minute of it,” Eng­land’s new­est skip­per said on the oc­ca­sion of his hon­ey­moon at a pic­turesque Lord’s.

By the first day’s end, the coldrid­den, sweater-clad (dur­ing his knock of 184, at least) Joe Root sounded like a man who needed a Med-Lemon and an early night, while South Africa’s bowlers and field­ers prob­a­bly felt like they needed some­thing stronger.

Root’s voice crack­led like the cham­pagne that flowed ef­fer­ves­cently on the lawns be­neath the space-age Me­dia Cen­tre all day.

“It’s from all the Churchill speeches,” the fresh-faced leader joked.

He ad­mit­ted that he may be milk­ing the cold ever so slightly, but the real milk­ing was done out in the sloped mid­dle as he suck­led at the gen­er­ous teat that a sloppy South Africa kept on of­fer­ing him.

It was as bizarre, and bril­liant, and be­fit­ting a knock of an Eng­land cap­tain at Lord’s, a ground that has been no­to­ri­ously un­kind to them – es­pe­cially in this fix­ture.

A stroll around the mu­seum that is the Head­quar­ters of the game re­veals all that is ter­rif­i­cally tra­di­tional about Eng­land and the game in whites.

Some still in­sist that all that coloured cloth­ing malarkey is a farce, a pro­moter’s dream to make a quick buck.

For those true cricket toffs, the ba­con and egg tie bri­gade, the sea­son be­gins prop­erly with the Test in the charm­ing set­ting of God’s gar­den in St John’s Wood.

And it is not just the lo­cals who de­scend upon this price­less patch of pur­veyor’s par­adise.

The Saf­fer ac­cent was as com­mon as the Cock­ney and the North­ern drawl, all min­gling around pints, pas­tries and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

And there, in the heav­ing masses was the lesser-spot­ted Coloured Rhino, one who goes by the name of Jeremy Fred­er­icks. A pic­ture in Protea green and parched in­tent, Fred­er­icks said that he has never missed a Test since unity.

“I felt that I had to be here, oth­er­wise I would break my un­bro­ken record,” he chimed, even as the masses en­thu­si­as­ti­cally cheered an­other Root rum­ble and fum­ble by the visi­tors.

It was in­cred­i­bly care­less from the Proteas, this busi­ness of over­step­ping and keep­ing Root to sup­pos­edly rot at the crease.

“It was a dis­ap­point­ing end for us,” Ver­non Phi­lan­der sighed.

“That was not our best dis­play in the field. There is no ex­cuse for that,” he added of the no-balls.

“No mar­bles, more like,” ob­served one el­derly gent in the ham­burger queue.

It was a with­er­ing as­sess­ment, as South Africa tum­bled from the heights they hit in the first ses­sion, when they looked as if they may blow the English away for 150.

“He gave us chances,” Phi­lan­der rued of the Root of all mis­ery.

“Had we taken them there, we could have bowled them out for un­der 200.

We couldn’t put a foot wrong be­fore lunch, then it went pear­shaped,” he as­sessed.

Pear it cer­tainly went, as Root closed in on a pair of cen­turies in a day, by the time the men in coats called time on the rev­elry.

“I rode my luck on a few oc­ca­sions.

“Get­ting dropped once, then chipped one over the fielder, get­ting a re­prieve … it all seemed to fall into place, re­ally,” Root smirked, his dis­ap­pear­ing voice be­ly­ing the fact that he stands firm at the crease overnight, his dis­obe­di­ently merry choir wait­ing pa­tiently for him at the cathe­dral of cricket.

THE open­ing salvos of this day promised much for South Africa but un­forced er­rors, su­perb ag­gres­sion from the new Eng­land cap­tain and con­cerns over the fit­ness of their best bowler saw them re­lin­quish the ad­van­tage they’d earned in the first ses­sion.

That Eng­land have con­trol of this match al­ready is largely down to Joe Root, who ended the day un­beaten on 184 – but South Africa will have plenty of re­grets as they pon­der the first day. Three times they let Root off the hook, two of those in mid­dle of the pe­riod when

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