JOE ROOT admitted it had been “a proud moment and a real honour” to be chosen to captain Yorkshire when regular skipper Andrew Gale stood down from the side to play Middlesex at Lord’s.
But speaking at the end of a first day in which his bowlers hit back to reduce the home side to 64-3 in reply to his own side’s 178, Root conceded that things had not “quite gone to plan”.
Playing his first County Championship match after recovering from a broken thumb, Root was dismissed lbw for a fifth-ball duck by England colleague Steven Finn as the home attack made the most of the opportunity to bowl first in cloudy conditions.
“Unfortunately, I’ve got no excuses for not scoring any runs but I feel really fit and I’m very pleased to be back playing,” said Root, who is the youngest cricketer to skipper Yorkshire since Lord Hawke.
However, a Sunday which had begun with Root striding out to the middle in his Yorkshire blazer to toss up with Ashes rival Chris Rogers soon went south as the visitors lost Alex Lees in the third over of the morning.
Only some fluent boundaries by Adam Lyth, who made 34, and Kane Williamson, who chipped in with a useful 30, helped Yorkshire to a very modest 76-4 at lunch, by which time both Lyth and Williamson had been dismissed.
That trend continued in the afternoon session and the White Rose was wilting at 113-7 when Gary Ballance became James Harris’ second victim, driving the seamer straight to Sam Robson in the gully when he had made 20.
And if Ryan Sidebottom had been caught off the third ball he received, Root’s first day as a Yorkshire captain might well have been something of a damage limitation exercise.
Instead, Sidebottom struck three boundaries and added 48 with Liam Plunkett whose 55-ball 56 not out was his third Championship fifty for Yorkshire.
Plunkett had driven and pulled ten fours in typically muscular fashion by the time Yorkshire were eventually bowled out, and Jack Brooks then removed Middlesex openers Rogers and Robson with only 20 runs on the board as the Lord’s wicket and the atmospheric conditions in NW8 continued to help the bowlers.
The home side had recovered somewhat when bad light and rain ended proceedings 19 overs early but the vociferous Yorkshire supporters at the home of cricket can be encouraged that this contest is very far from being done and dusted.
“If we get a couple of early wickets, we’ll be right back in the game and hopefully we can put them under pressure,” said Root.
LV= County Championship
Middlesex v Yorkshire
(Middlesex won toss)
Yorkshire First Innings
A Lyth c Simpson b Finn 34
A Z Lees c Simpson b T J Murtagh 2
K S Williamson c Rayner b Harris 30
J E Root lbw b Finn 0
G S Ballance c Robson b Harris 20
A U Rashid c Rayner b T J Murtagh 6
A J Hodd c Robson b Harris 5
L E Plunkett not out 56
R J Sidebottom c Robson b Finn 12
S A Patterson b Finn 2
J A Brooks b T J Murtagh 1
Extras (b5 lb1 nb4) 10
Total (58.2 overs) 178
Fall: 1-3 2-55 3-55 4-74 5-93 6-98 7-113 8-161 9-173.
Bowling: T J Murtagh 18.2-5-48-3, Harris 15-4-42-3, Finn 17-5-50-4, Dexter 5-2-21-0, Rayner 3-0-11-0.
Middlesex First Innings
C J L Rogers c Lyth b Brooks 1
S D Robson c Hodd b Brooks 7
D J Malan b Sidebottom 31
E J G Morgan not out 24
N J Dexter not out 0
Extras (w1) 1
Total 3 wkts (18 overs) 64
Fall: 1-1 2-20 3-57.
Bowling: Sidebottom 7-1-23-1, Brooks 6-1-19-2, Patterson 4-2-2-0, Plunkett 1-0-2-0.