CRICKET: Sheffield star has big future

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THEY say make the most of your opportunity when it comes - and Joe Root has grasped his with both hands and wrapped his legs around it as well.

His inclusion in the England side in both forms of the game, came as something of a surprise. It has proved to be an extremely shrewd and perceptive decision and the 22-year-old from Sheffield has been, arguably, the success of the winter.

Initially, he was surprisingly drafted into the final Test in India before Christmas because of Jonny Bairstow’s unavailability. His 70-odd in testing circumstances was highly acclaimed and his stock his been rising ever since.

He wasn’t, initially, part of England’s one-day plans but the selectors decided to keep him on when Bairstow was forced to return home.

Now, he looks to have forced himself into the picture for this summer’s Champions Trophy. And not just through his batting but with his all-round contributions in the series which England lost 3-2.

When England twice collapsed, in Kochi and Ranchi, he was a calming figure in the middle order as the partisan home crowds bayed their support for India. Two 30s, top score and second top score, were not to be sniffed at in low scoring totals.

Then he captivated watchers with a different type of innings in Mohali when he made 57 not out from 45 balls and reinvigorated an innings that was threatening to stagnate.

It was a knock that had people really sitting up and captain Alastair Cook purred afterwards and was fulsome in his praise of the young Yorkshireman.

But it hasn’t just been his batting. He has bowled his off-spin and for reasonable returns as well - not easy with Indian batsmen on the rampage. It’s a bonus for a captain to be able to turn to an ‘extra’ bowler and Root proved more than capable.

Then there is Root’s work in the field. He is athletic and an excellent all-round fielder and there is no doubt England have unearthed a player who could be a key part of their limited-overs future.

He looks set get a middle-order spot for the New Zealand Test series (starting in Dunedin on March 6) but Root finds himself in the ODI series before that and, after injury, a call-up to the T20 squad which has a three-match series in NZ starting in Auckland on February 9. The three-match ODIs start on February 17.