Having battled and beaten all of Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph for his 16th Test century on Day 3 in St Lucia, England captain Joe Root could reflect on a “good hard scrap” with a lot of contentment.
The visitors finally had a dominant day on what would, at times, have seemed a dreadfully long tour of the Caribbean. Keaton Jennings managed to see off the new ball in a 99-ball 23, Joe Denly brought quick runs in a 99-ball 69, and Jos Buttler ensured Root had steady support, with a 115-ball 56.
The day, however, belonged to Root. After a run of poor scores – he made 4, 22, 7 and 7 in the first two Tests – Root brought out his best. He remained unbeaten on a 209-ball 111 as England ended the day with a commanding lead of 448.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) February 11, 2019
“It was a good hard scrap,” said Root after the day’s play on Monday, February 11. “But it was really enjoyable because sometimes, when things aren’t quite happening for you, you think you’re battling a little bit. To come out the other side is really pleasing.
“My feet haven’t always been doing what I want them to, so it’s been a constant battle to find a formula that gets me off to a good start. Once you’re off and running things become a little bit easier. It’s nice to see all the hard work come to the fore by being here at the end of the day not out.”
But, more than his century, what pleased Root the most was the way his team has responded. After going down 2-0 in the series, there was plenty of talk, including from coach Trevor Bayliss, about the England players not having the right mentality.
That has brought up a reaction. “It’s been a tough series for me personally and for the guys,” he said. “We’ve worked extremely hard on this trip, but things haven’t gone as we wanted. We’ve not played good cricket at times.
“To respond as we have today, and be in this position of strength with two days left is really pleasing. It’s really pleasing to show improvement and willingness to adapt to conditions. Even though the series is gone there’s still a lot to play for.”
With six wickets remaining, and Root and Ben Stokes in the middle, England will look to post a big target before making inroads into the West Indies line-up.