It is too early to tell how serious his injury is but a bulletin from England said he was off the field as a precautionary measure with a tight calf muscle. Prior is 31 and while you would expect a player in his twenties would shake something like that off within a week, he may take longer.
Given Root’s role in the injury and the remorse he will have felt, it was still a surprise to see him stroll out in wicket-keeping kit to fill in for Prior. Jonny Bairstow is the spare keeper on tour and while Australia ‘A’ would have been well within their rights not to allow him to take over, given he was not named in the 12 for this match. But even though Bairstow was not refused England, eager to replicate what would happen in a Test match under such circumstances, stuck with Root.
Root, who had earlier made a classy and composed half-century, is the kind of sparky character who would have volunteered to keep wicket anyway, but it was still a risk by England. Plenty of proper keepers break their fingers not taking the ball cleanly in cold weather, but Root, standing tall in a white sunhat, was neat and looked the part. Later, he even played a part, catching Usman Khawaja off James Anderson when the left-hander nibbled at a good length ball.
Anderson also took the first wicket to fall, Alex Doolan, after England had declared their first innings on 430 for seven. Doolan is one of those on the fringe of the main Test squad and after a century against New South Wales, in good form too. He showed just how good by driving Stuart Broad to distraction, taking 18 runs off his fourth over.
So dominant was Doolan that the score was 39 when Michael Klinger, his opening partner, got off the mark. A run later, Doolan tried to drive Anderson through the covers on the up, as he had done Broad, and was bowled the ball cutting back to clip the top of his pad before doing the same to off-stump.
If that opening salvo and further spells for Broad and Graeme Swann, who had Klinger lbw with one that kept low, looked adequate for a first outing, the lack of time at the crease for Pietersen was not ideal.
As he often does, Pietersen began his innings with a bang, striking boundaries off both opening bowlers, Trent Copeland and Ben Cutting. But if over-confidence can sometimes prove his undoing, Pietersen was blameless over his dismissal after Copeland had him lbw to a ball that failed to bounce more than a few inches.
With the pitch encouraging seam movement, following two days under covers, Cutting bowled a tighter line and fuller length than he had on the opening day when the pitch was fresh and the movement similar. It brought him success too, with Jonathan Trott caught behind and Gary Ballance lbw, well, overbalancing.
Two innings are a small sample from which to judge a man’s worth but Ballance’s second failure of the tour, will have confirmed what most began to suspect when Michael Carberry walked out with Alastair Cook on the opening day here, that Carberry will open in the first Test and Root will return to the number six role where he started his England career.
Broad came in and slogged Holland for six before holing out to the same bowler at long-on. Apart from his mini mauling from Doolan, Broad looked full of rhythm and purpose with the ball. He even had time to lose his temper, always a sign that a fast bowler is ready.