If there were any questions about GM’s Joe Root’s right to bat in England’s middle-order ahead of the New Zealand Test series, he answered them emphatically with a string of performances that won him the man-of-the-series award.
In the first innings at Lord’s he made 40 and was as fluent as any of his team-mates, following it up with 71 in 120 balls to help England take control of the match, striking eight fours out of England’s 213.
If there was any disappointment at missing out on a maiden century at the home of cricket, he didn’t have to wait long to reach the coveted three figures at his home ground of Headingley.
Coming in with England struggling at 67 for three, it was a superb innings, devoid of nerves, carelessness or emotion, at least until he had reached his century.
Watching him bat with Ian Bell and Jonathan Bairstow, a visitor with no prior knowledge of the game could have been forgiven for thinking that Root was a seasoned veteran, rather than a man in just his sixth Test, his second on home soil, and his first in front of a boisterous home crowd.
They sang his name to the tune of Hey Jude and then a huge cheer went up as he eased his way to a maiden century, punching the air in delight as he went. It surely won’t be his last.
He fell for 104 soon afterwards but came in during the second innings with a different job to do. Quick runs were required and he made a swift 28 in 22 balls, displaying a versatility and audacity at the crease that only the very best can aspire to. New Zealand simply didn’t know where to bowl at him.