David Lloyd says England captain Joe Root rediscovered his rhythm as he scored his 17th Test century and first since February.
Root hit an unbeaten 114 from 278 balls on day three of the second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton having made just two and 11 during England’s innings defeat in the first Test.
The 28-year-old failed to score a hundred in the Ashes – topping out 77 in a series in which he also bagged three ducks – but Sky Cricket expert Lloyd thinks Root is now on the way to finding his best form.
England showed good discipline and it was so important that Root got back in the runs, said Bumble, after the tourists – for whom Rory Burns (101) scored a second Test century – closed a rain-shortened day on 269-5 to trail the Kiwis by 106 runs with two days remaining.
I thought he dug in to all his reserves [on the evening of day two] when his movement wasn’t great. Then, the longer he batted, his rhythm came back.
His sideways position, his knock down to third man, his front leg bending into the shot. It all came back. He was moving in sync. He’ll be now thinking there are plenty more runs there.
Bumble’s fellow Sky Cricket expert Mark Butcher also noted how Root improved as his knock progressed as the captain snapped a run of 14 Test innings without a century.
There was a change during the innings, Butcher said of Root, whose previous Test ton came against West Indies in St Lucia in February.
In the beginning he was over-balancing, his head was getting outside the line of off stump and he didn’t have a firm base to push off from, get forward from. He was battling with himself.
But as he got in, the footwork started to be better and his balance was awesome. He looked like the Root who was churning out runs, dare I say it, before he became captain.
Root and Burns shared a 177-run stand for the third wicket but Burns was run out before tea, while Ben Stokes (26) and debutant Zak Crawley (1) nicked off after the break prior to the wet weather – which could also return on day four – wiping out the final hour at Seddon Park
Bumble says England can still win the Test and draw the series – but believes they may need to be more aggressive against New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner.
England have still got to be thinking that there will be 98 overs each on days four and five, added Lloyd.
There is a bit of rain around on day four, we are told, but they must have a thought of trying to win the game. The only way we think they can do it is by getting way past New Zealand and seeing what happens.
It’s odds-on to be a draw so can England accelerate the game? I don’t think New Zealand will allow them to. I think they will push the ball wide and pack the off-side.
The one thing England might do is get after Santner. I thought they were a bit passive against him so tempo will be important. They need to try and get any sort of lead as Burns says the cracks in the pitch are getting wider.
Butcher added: England have lost some time with the rain.
They have gone at about 2.5 runs an over so far. That would have been fine if they hadn’t lost overs and been four down at stumps. But now they need to figure out how on earth they will get a lead of 100.
You are almost in a position where you are better off getting bowled out a little bit behind and then trying to knock the team who can’t win the game over for 150 in the third innings.
Watch day four of the second Test between New Zealand and England from 9pm, Sunday on Sky Sports Cricket.