Root revels in return to form

Congleton Guardian: England's Joe Root acknowledges the crowd England's Joe Root acknowledges the crowd

Joe Root's celebrations spoke volumes after he rubber-stamped his Test return with an unbeaten century to help launch England's new era.

The 23-year-old Yorkshireman leapt high and punched the air after racing through for the three runs which took him to his third hundred at the highest level.

Root did not seek to disguise his feelings afterwards either, as he reflected on his 102 not out and unbroken three-figure partnership with Matt Prior (76no) against Sri Lanka at Lord's.

Together, they took England to 344 for five on day one of the Investec series after being put in on a green-tinged pitch.

England, so keen to mark a fresh start under returning coach Peter Moores following last winter's Ashes whitewash, had stumbled to 22 for two before Ian Bell (56) first began the recovery.

The experiences of Root and wicketkeeper Prior, both dropped last winter but back here for another opportunity after England's management reshuffle, summed up collective fortunes.

"It's obviously been quite a tough winter, from a team point of view and personally as well," said Root.

"So to come back into the side and score a hundred meant a lot to me."

England badly needed him too.

"The position I came in at was quite a tricky one, and it's very pleasing to go on and get us in a decent position by the end of play.

"At times the Sri Lankans bowled really well at us, and made it very hard for us to score.

"But we're in a really good position now, and Matty again tonight played exceptionally well.

"I hope we can kick on and get somewhere near 400, if not more, tomorrow."

Root was not an entirely automatic choice at the start of this summer, but England found a spot for him at number five.

Asked if he worried, before the team was picked for this first Test, if he might have to wait a little longer, he said: "I tried not to think about it too much ... just work hard at my game and try to improve on areas I knew I needed to, and give myself the best chance possible if I got the opportunity."

Root was rightly impressed by the efforts of others, principally Prior but also debutant Moeen Ali - with whom he put on 89 for the fourth wicket.

"We were in a couple of tricky situations at times, and it's testament to the other guys who played with me - we put together some really good partnerships.

"After a difficult winter, the way Matty came back and played is testament to his character and ability."

Reflecting on Sri Lanka's uneven day, opening batsman Kaushal Silva provided an even-handed assessment.

"Maybe the last hour or so we tried to take wickets, so it gave them some runs - but apart from that we did really well," he said.

"Matt Prior scored some runs that made the difference.

"We wanted to take wickets and put pressure on them - but after taking five, it didn't happen.

"Let's hope we can come back in the morning and get those wickets.

Root, meanwhile, may have helped to kickstart a long-term revival.

"It's exciting, and I hope this can be a good start to a great summer," he said, adding there were some anxious glances all round however when Prior survived by inches via DRS after Sri Lanka reviewed an lbw appeal against him on nought.

"There were a few nerves kicking about there, not just from him but me as well.

"I hope he can kick on and make a really big score."

Root has moved around the batting order more than most in his short Test career to date, but may have found a new home.

"I hinted earlier in the summer that I wanted to bat in the middle order.

"I was given the choice - 'do you want to bat at five?' - and I said 'yes, that would be fantastic'."

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