Root makes Aussies pay after dropped catch

The last time Joe Root was involved in Ashes action he was a forlorn-looking figure carrying the drinks and being mocked by the SCG crowd after his axing from an England side that was being destroyed by a rampant Australia.

Fast forward 18 months and the 24-year-old was the toast of Cardiff after rescuing his team from a potentially catastrophic 3-43 with the fastest ever century in the first innings of an Ashes series to help the hosts finish the day on 7-343 at Swalec Stadium.

Root reached three figures off just 118 balls, eclipsing the previous best of 124 balls set by Australia’s Steve Waugh in 1989.

The England vice-captain was finally dismissed for 134 when Shane Watson pouched a smart catch off Mitchell Starc in the slips.

But it was a case of what might have been for the tourists and Starc after Brad Haddin grassed a simple chance from the second ball faced by the baby-faced Yorkshireman from a full-length delivery from the New South Welshman.

The left-armer’s celebrations when he finally got his man were somewhat muted on what was a largely taxing day for the bowlers on a lifeless pitch that neutralised Australia’s quick men.

Root dominated a partnership of 153 with Yorkshire teammate Gary Ballance (61) that resuscitated England’s innings.

He chalked up his seventh Test century after lunch when he pulled Josh Hazlewood to the boundary having survived an lbw appeal when on 62 that was rejected by the third umpire off the bowling of Nathan Lyon.

But it was the only real moment of concern after his early reprieve and Root admitted he was fortunate to be in a position to chalk up his seventh Test ton after Haddin’s howler but said he initially thought it was bump ball.

“To be perfectly honest I would have reviewed it and looked a bit silly,” Root said.

“Thankfully he didn’t manage to cling on to it. It’s very pleasing to get to where we are and hopefully we can build on it in the morning.

“I am very proud of today and hope I can kick on and do it throughout the series.”

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