Joe Root provides the ‘gold dust’ as Yorkshire Vikings go top of T20 table

JOE ROOT’s first taste of the Yorkshire captaincy was not a happy affair.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 7:28 am
Yorkshire's Joe Roots strikes for the boundary. Picture Tony Johnson
Yorkshire's Joe Roots strikes for the boundary. Picture Tony Johnson

Team-mates nicknamed him “craptain” after Middlesex famously knocked off 472 at Lord’s in 2014 – the third-highest chase in Championship history.

Root stood in for club captain Andrew Gale on that occasion and a further two times that summer – the title-clinching innings win against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, and a draw against Somerset at Headingley when the visitors escaped with nine wickets down.

Root also deputised for then club captain Gary Ballance when Yorkshire lost by an innings against Surrey at The Oval in 2018, the game when Ollie Pope announced himself with a brilliant hundred in front of Root, who had been appointed England Test captain the previous year.

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Yorkshire's Dom Bess brilliantly catches Leus Du Plooy from his own bowling. Picture Tony Johnson

Root’s fifth taste of the Yorkshire leadership – and his first in white-ball cricket – came here against Derbyshire in the T20 Blast. Standing in for David Willey, as he will for the next few games while Willey is on T20 international duty before Root, too, returns to England colours, he presided over a facile 39-run triumph that lifted Yorkshire to the top of the North Group on net run-rate.

Yorkshire hit 174-6 after being sent into bat, Root 
top-scoring with 49 from 36 balls with six fours as he just missed out on what would have been his sixth T20 half-century for the club in seven innings dating back to 2018.

Harry Brook, who could be mistaken for Root from a distance, and not just because the ‘88’ on his back might be confused with Root’s ‘66’, equalled his highest score in this year’s competition with an unbeaten 48 from 34 balls with four fours and two sixes.

Jordan Thompson chipped in with 21 from 13 balls, including the biggest six of the afternoon when he deposited seam bowler Fynn Hudson-Prentice over long-on and into the middle tier of the Emerald Stand. George Scrimshaw, the 23-year-old right-arm medium-fast bowler, returned a career-best 3-30 including the wicket of Root, who was fourth out at 113 in the 14th over when he skewed to mid-on.

Yorkshire cricket supporters back in the ground at Headingley Stadium after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. Picture Tony Johnson

Dom Bess also returned a T20 career-best 3-21 as Derbyshire folded for 135, Lockie Ferguson returning identical figures.

“It’s nice to contribute to a really strong Yorkshire win,” said Bess.

“There’s obviously still a long way to go in the tournament, and it’s really important that we keep the momentum going now, continuing with the game here against Worcestershire on Wednesday.

“The squad has stepped up with the England lads going back, and of course it’s gold-dust to have Rooty around. He’s performed on the biggest stages in T20 cricket, and it’s great to be able to learn from him.”

Root was one of four changes to the side that beat Worcestershire at New Road in Yorkshire’s previous T20 outing, with Thompson, Ballance and Matthew Waite returning as the club bid adieu to the T20 England quartet of Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid and Willey.

In cloudy conditions before a crowd of 4,224, Root walked out at No 3 after Adam Lyth fell to the fifth ball, bowled by a fine off-cutter from Logan van Beek.

Root worked his first delivery from van Beek to the backward-square boundary in front of the West Stand, the sort of delightful touch stroke that is very much his trademark. Tom Kohler-Cadmore was bowled trying to play through the offside and Ballance caught on the deep mid-wicket boundary as Yorkshire slipped to 56-3 in the eighth, the prelude to a fine stand of 57 in six overs between Root and Brook, with Root deftly late-cutting and sweeping the leg-spin of Matt Critchley to the boundary and also displaying muscular strength when hammering Scrimshaw back over his head as if trying to decapitate it from his shoulders.

Will Fraine skied to backward-point and Thompson was bowled in the final over, Yorkshire thrashing 28 off the last two overs including a sequence of four sixes in eight balls.

Root set Yorkshire on their way with ball in hand, striking in the second over when Luis Reece skied to point. Ferguson, who played for Derbyshire in 2018, bowled Harry Came as he tried to hit him through the offside, Waite capturing the key wicket of Billy Godleman when he picked out Bess at deep-backward square-leg.

Bess then caught-and-bowled the dangerous Leus du Plooy, had Critchley taken at long-on and Brooke Guest pocketed at long-off. Thompson had Hudson-Prentice caught at long-on and Alex Thompson caught-and-bowled from successive balls, Ferguson also taking two in two when he rounded things off by yorking van Beek and Scrimshaw.