JOE Root’s magnificent double century against Hampshire showed why he is an England player of the future.
The Yorkshire batsman led his side’s recovery from a precarious 161-7 with a career-best 222 not out as Yorkshire made 350-9 declared, having lost the toss.
Root looked to be playing a different game to his teammates as Yorkshire slumped to 161-7, having been 83-3 overnight.
He began the penultimate day of this rain-affected LV County Championship match on 46 and finished it as one of only four batsmen to have scored a double century against Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl.
Only current Yorkshire captain Phil Jaques (243), Will Jefferson (222) and Marcus Trescothick (227) have done so previously.
Still only 21, Root will surely open the batting for England one day.
Before the declaration, he was on course to become the first Yorkshire batsman to carry his bat away from Headingley since Geoff Boycott in 1979 (and the first to do so against Hampshire since Herbert Sutcliffe in 1932).
But Root’s innings could not be described as Boycott-esque.
As he ran out of partners, he accelerated. His second hundred came from only 84 balls and included two sixes in one Kabir Ali over.
Root had only scored one maximum in his first-class career before yesterday, but he thumped the persevering James Tomlinson for another after passing 200.
As well as his three sixes, he also stroked 23 fours during his 270-ball innings, which made up a colossal 63.4 per cent of his side’s total.
Root put his foot down against the slow left-arm of Hampshire’s Liam Dawson, a former England Under-19 teammate with whom he had enjoyed dinner the previous evening.
His seventh-wicket partnership of 121 in 33 overs with Azeem Rafiq eventually ended when Kabir uprooted the off stump.
But Kabir tired and was not the force he was during his first spell the previous day.
Dimi Mascarenhas (2-40) took the wickets of Richard Pyrah and Anthony McGrath in successive overs during midday showers, before the rain eventually relented after lunch.
Tomlinson, who finished with 4-80, was the pick of the Hampshire bowlers.
It was against Tomlinson that Root offered his only chance, put down at deep mid-on by Bilal Shafayat.
But by then Root had made 215 and was rushing Yorkshire to a fourth batting point.
While Root was enjoying one of the best days of his young career, two of his England Lions teammates – Danny Briggs and James Vince - have been left out of this Hampshire side. “It just shows the strength of the Hampshire squad that they can afford to leave out two players of that quality,” said Root.
While Briggs was left out because of the conditions, Vince has been unfortunate not to be recalled, having been dropped from Hampshire’s last Championship side at the beginning of June. The extension of Neil McKenzie’s stint has seen to that. Opening the batting for Hampshire the first time, McKenzie helped Jimmy Adams lead his side to 39-0 in the final 12 overs of the day, which included a wayward spell from Yorkshire debutant Steve Harmison.