Joe Root resolved to bat through the entire third day of the second Test against New Zealand as the England captain temporarily silenced his detractors with a resolute century at Hamilton.
There has been scrutiny over whether the captaincy is impinging on Root’s batting because of his average of just 27.4 in his 10 previous Tests this year, but he ended his lean trot with an unbeaten 114 at Seddon Park.
Root’s 17th Test hundred, allied to Rory Burns’s 101, carried England to 269 for five – still trailing New Zealand by 106 before the players were brought off with 16.2 overs still left in the day because of rain.
Root’s brother Billy, a county cricketer with Glamorgan, made his feelings about the speculation surrounding his elder sibling quite clear.
It will stay until I get home and then I'm pretty certain my missus will have it off quick time. Won't want to see me looking like my old man too much.Rory Burns
It is not certain who the last batsman to record a Test century for England while sporting a moustache was – some have proffered Jack Russell in 1996 – and Burns admitted his facial fuzz, in honour of Movember, is not likely to last long on his return home.
There was a lengthy wait before Burns was given out. It seemed obvious that he was short of his ground, albeit by a matter of inches, as he came back for a second run but third umpire Bruce Oxenford went through an assiduous process before bringing the axe down. The delay seemed to centre on whether the bails had been lifted from their grooves, made all the more difficult because of a colour clash – the stumps here are white.
England’s march towards New Zealand’s total was given a minute helping hand when Kumar Dharmasena signalled for a no-ball off Daryl Mitchell. Replays subsequently showed some of the all-rounder’s front foot was behind the line at the first point of contact but it was a marginal decision.
Neil Wagner is used to taking a sledgehammer to opposition batsmen – figuratively speaking – but he used a literal one to flatten out some footmarks on the popping crease. Taking the mallet out of the groundsman’s hands, Wagner got to work and had his reward when he angled one across Test debutant Zak Crawley.
December 2: New Zealand v England, day four of the second Test at Hamilton, where the tourists will be looking to claim a significant first-innings lead.