Rain tames Lions
Joe Root took his first-class run-tally to a quite astonishing 646 in just four innings, yet his England Lions team were denied a chance to push for victory by rain against the New Zealanders.
Precipitation has caused interruptions aplenty at Grace Road, ensuring only 156 overs were possible over the first three days.
A full morning session took place today as well as four overs in the afternoon, but the draw was confirmed at 3:30pm with inclement weather ruling again.
Root and Jonny Bairstow utilised the opportunity to reach personal landmarks, the former moving beyond 150 and the latter 50.
They fell to Doug Bracewell and Trent Boult respectively, however, with the Lions subsequently reaching 444 for seven, a lead of 159, before another downpour intervened.
Root has been in stunning form so far this summer, with scores of 49, 182 and 236 preceding his 179 for England’s second-string.
He is subsequently set to retain his place in England’s XI for the first Investec Test at Lord’s next week.
That means he can harbour hopes, albeit unlikely, of becoming just the sixth Englishman to strike 1,000 first-class runs before the end of May.
Graham Hick, not included in the aforementioned group as he had not then qualified for England, was the last man to achieve the feat – in 1988 – although Root’s England team-mate Nick Compton was denied by rain 50 runs short last summer.
England will certainly hope Root can do it, for it would mean him striking 354 runs over two Tests versus the Black Caps.
He has hinted that such an effort is possible over the last three days having looked largely untroubled in a brilliant innings, albeit one helped by being dropped on 23 by Brendon McCullum, against the Kiwis’ likely Test attack.
The way in which he manipulated the field during a 374-minute stay belied his tender years and no doubt gave the tourists cause for alarm.
The 22-year-old's mature approach was again to the fore this morning, in which he was able to add 36 to his overnight 145 before being bowled by Bracewell.
For Bracewell, the wicket represented belated revenge given he was the unfortunate bowler when his skipper shelled a chance on day two.
Bracewell's breakthrough came after Bairstow’s entertaining innings had ended on 68, somewhat surprisingly trapped lbw by the impressive Boult.
Bairstow, another member of England’s Test squad, had looked at time imperious except when moving to his fifty with a Chinese-cut four and will, too, take much confidence into next week.
After his departure, Ravi Bopara took up the baton as a glorious straight six off Kane Williamson preceded a series of eye-catching strokes to the off side.
But, having struck 44, he was left frustrated, as were his team-mates given they may well have secured a notable win had the British weather not had the final say.