Two of the latest generation of Sheffield sporting stars had the time of their lives at the weekend.
Joe Root, fast emerging as the golden boy of English cricket, was man of the match at the Lord’s Test match while teenage golfing prodigy Matthew Fitzpatrick secured the Silver Medal as top amateur at the Open Championship at Muirfield in Scotland.
Both had vocal support from their home city.
Joe became the youngest English batsman to make an Ashes century at Lord’s when his 180 (plus a couple of key wickets) helped England to a 347-run win against the struggling Australians.
It followed his debut Test hundred at Yorkshire’s home ground, Headingley, against New Zealand in May but the 22-year-old from Dore said this was the highlight of his career so far.
“To get a hundred against Australia is something that you always want to do as a kid growing up and to do it here at Lord’s is very special.
“I just want to keep contributing. Every time you go out to bat it is obviously an opportunity to do that. It was obviously quite a tricky situation and it was nice to get through it and kick on later in the day.”
He was watched from the stands by dad and mum Matt and Helen, his girlfriend Caitlin and grandad Don – with younger brother Billy acting as 12th man to bring him a drink after he reached his century.
According to Matt, a stalwart of Collegiate cricket club: “It was the pinnacle of Joe’s life so far – in some ways he’s achieved all there is to achieve.”
It meant Joe has silenced the doubters who questioned the decision to pitch in someone so young as opener in the glare of an Ashes contest with an innings where he had to fight for runs early on.
“He gave an early chance in the slips which wasn’t taken and then had to survive a really difficult first hour – I could see he was tired as he’d been in the field all day,” he said.
“The way he got out to a high risk shot was Joe all over – but he wasn’t playing for his 200, he was playing for the team. And he isn’t really one for milestones, he just wants to be involved.”
The Root family plan to be at the three remaining Tests at Old Trafford, Durham and the Oval.
Matt summed it up: “These are happy times – it’s quite an adventure for us all.”
Meanwhile a contingent from Hallamshire Golf Club had travelled up to Muirfield to watch their 18-year-oldmember, Matthew Fitzpatrick in his first Open.
He shot a final-round 72 to finish 10-over-par 294, not enough to avoid the cut, but five strokes better than the any other amateur player.
It was an impressive performance by last year’s Boys Amateur champion, who sat his A-Levels earlier this summer at Tapton school, but he has no immediate thoughts of joining the professional ranks.
He has secured a place at Northwestern University in Chicago, following in the footsteps of Luke Donald.
“Going to university is the big thing, and mum and dad make sure education comes first. So I’ll do my four years at Northwestern and get a good degree, hopefully, something to fall back on if the golf doesn’t work out. I’m not going to turn pro anytime soon.”
He added that he did not yet know what he wanted to study.
Fitzpatrick was mistaken for Tiger Woods’ practice range ball-carrier earlier in the week but he was more recognisable as he came down the 18th to generous applause.
Having hit the green, from where he would make a par four, he knew by then the Silver Medal was his.
“Going around, there was no one sort of telling me where I was at until 17,” said Matthew. “My dad was at the side of the fairway going like that (holding up four fingers). “I didn’t quite know what he meant, and I then I put two and two together, and got four. That was when I had in mind of where he was.”