Thursday’s first Test against Pakistan offers a welcome opportunity to wipe clean the slate, after a winter in which Root’s own deficiencies somehow encapsulated those of his team
Lord’s on the eve of an English Test summer, with the close-cropped grass dancing and sparkling in golden sunshine, and the giant beer kegs being winched in on whirring forklift trucks, feels like a good place for a fresh start. The mind feels clean. The body feels primed and sharp. Winter’s last finger has finally loosened its frosty grip. And for these few blessed hours, all is possibility once more.
Just under a year ago, this was the tableau into which Joe Root stepped: a newly minted England Test captain marking his coming-of-age with a century for the ages. And as he strode from the Lord’s turf, 190 runs against the South Africans to his name, a smile that could melt glaciers, a bat that could cut steel, it really seemed like Root’s time had come at last: as if one of England’s most gifted modern batsmen was ready to take the next step, and that if we were lucky, he would take the rest of us along for the ride.