Captaincy, according to Richie Benaud, is 90 percent luck and 10 percent skill, a mantra Joe Root went a long way to proving on his first day in the job.
Cricket has always been a part of Root’s life. Every moment from when he left the hospital as a newborn baby, clutching a miniature cardboard bat made for him by his father, seemingly leading up to the day he captained the Test side.
His debut match as captain, in many ways, was a dream scenario. A full house at Lord’s on a gloriously hot summer’s day. Throw in a bit of luck as England won the toss and things were off to a flying start for Root.
Dreams, however, often have a funny way of going bad, and as soon as play started, England’s top-order almost soured their skipper's big day. Three wickets lost before the score had even reached 50, with some dodgy use of the DRS in the mix as well.
Luck, though, was on Root’s side as he was reprieved twice inside the first 20 overs. He’d only made five when Kagiso Rabada drew him into top-edging a hook shot and it should have been caught at long-leg but substitute fielder Aiden Markram stepped in too far as the ball landed inside the boundary and went for four.
Six overs later, Root was actually dropped. Flashing an edge to JP Duminy, who could only parry it over his own head at gully.
Fortunately for England, luck wasn’t the only thing in Root’s arsenal and even his harshest critic (if indeed such a person exists) would have to argue that it was with more than 10 percent skill that the 26-year-old set about rebuilding his team’s day.
First he combined with all-rounder Ben Stokes, putting together a partnership of 114 with his vice-captain, to turn the match around with similar effect to the game against New Zealand at the same ground two years ago.
If the loss of Stokes after Tea seemed like just the breakthrough South Africa needed, it would prove to be a short-lived sensation as Moeen Ali joined the fray and took on the opposition in his own style.
The day, though, belonged to Root as he became the sixth England captain to record a hundred in the first match in-charge, although curiously, the fourth in succession.
For all the skill, there was still significant slice of luck for Root, as Maharaj managed to overstep on the delivery South Africa finally got England’s new captain out stumped.
For those keeping track, it was Root’s third reprieve of the day and on the next ball, he had his 150.
By the end of play, England had made 357/5 with Root unbeaten on a majestic 184 – a day he would never forget despite the ratio of luck and skill.