Yorkshire (191-3) beat Nottinghamshire(185) by seven wickets
Joe Root’s advice for younger brother Billy was pretty unequivocal after the pair’s first match against one another. “Don’t bowl half-trackers at me next time,” said the England Test captain after hitting his brother for six to bring up victory for Yorkshire against Nottinghamshire in the Royal London Cup by seven wickets.
Root made an unbeaten 75 off 78 balls as he eased his way into the season with his first significant innings of a key summer in his life.
He handled the triple challenge of sibling rivalry, England team rivalry and Ashes rivalry with his usual nonchalance, making the highest total of a low-scoring match after Yorkshire had bowled out Nottinghamshire for just 185.
Joe travelled down to Nottingham in the morning, giving a lift to Billy, and the Root family were in tow as wel,l with proud father Matt posting a picture of himself on social media wearing Notts and Yorkshire shirts stitched together.
This week the Roots’ former headteacher spoke about the difference between the two brothers as children, painting a familiar picture of young Joe as a batsman who had excellent shot selection and temperament, even as a primary school pupil. He remembered Billy as the more impetuous, likely to play bigger shots but also to get out, leaving his brother to make the winning scores.
Joe has barely seen his younger brother play in recent years as their careers have taken different paths. Billy never quite made it at Yorkshir and has drifted around the county circuit, playing second XI cricket for Leicestershire and Worcestershire before finally nailing down a chance at Nottinghamshire with runs in the final championship match of last season.
He has started in the first team in white-ball cricket this summer, making runs at Worcester this week, but did little here. He was out prodding outside off stump as Yorkshire’s disciplined seam attack strangled the life out of Nottinghamshire.
With the match petering out to a predictable end, Nottinghamshire captain Chris Read gave Billy the chance to bowl at his brother. His off-spin was at best innocuous and his brother reverse-swept him for four before lofting him mightily over the midwicket boundary for the winning runs.
“It was awful. It was such a horrible situation to be in. I’m obviously desperate for him to do well and get a hold in the side but you have got to be professional to get the job done,” said Joe. “There was a slight feeling of guilt towards the end but that is professional sport and I am sure he would have done the same if I had come on to bowl at him.”
Nottinghamshire’s total was at least 100 runs short of par on a ground where last year England made the highest ever one-day international total and Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire traded 400-run totals.
Ru- scoring was not quite as easy on a cold April afternoo,n but Nottinghamshire did not help themselves with too many batsmen getting themselves out. Once Adam Lyth and Jonny Bairstow had given the Yorkshire innings a flying start, Root could bat with no pressure and was able to spend valuable time at the crease.
Stuart Broad tried to ruffle him up, staring at him and invading his body space at the end of his follo- through, but Root simply laughed at his England colleague. “He was trying to create a bit of theatre and make it a little bit more uncomfortable for us, but we were very clinical,” said Root.
“It is hard to take him seriously when you are so used to playing on the same side. If there were words he was not man enough to say them to me. It was good fun.”
This was Root’s highest one day innings for Yorkshire, mainly due to the fact he rarely plays for them. He will play two more matches, including facing James Anderson in a Roses match tomorrow, before joining England on Thursday for the series against Ireland.
This match was sta-studded. Only four of the 22 players, two on each side, had not played international cricket and Nottinghamshire included Australia fast bowler James Pattinson, who has been terrorising second-division batsmen in the championship. He travelled at nearly eight an over in this match, but he was keeping plenty back for later dates with Root this year, when there will be more riding on the outcome.