Joe’s journey from boy to Test star

Yorks v Leicester'Yorkshires Joe Root'Picture by Neil Silk  121816e'02/05/12
Yorks v Leicester'Yorkshires Joe Root'Picture by Neil Silk 121816e'02/05/12

Back in the not too distant days when we last had a summer, I would spend lazy Saturday afternoons slouched in a fold-up chair next to the pavilion end sightscreen at Sheffield’s Abbeydale Park.

This was Yorkshire League cricket and tough stuff at that, slugged out by hardened club players from Sheffield Collegiate against equally streetwise opposition.

One Saturday this slip of a lad - looking no taller than five foot nothing - appeared in their midst.

I discovered he was Joe Root, a name not entirely unfamiliar to me as he was forever picking up sports awards at my kids’ school, King Ecgbert.

What struck me was that young Joe - who must have been about 15 at the time - was one of the most voluble players in the field.

Hardly a ball passed without a clap of the hands and a high-pitched chime of “Come on, fellas!”

Made me wonder what his grizzled team-mates thought of this pipsqueak repeatedly telling them to step up their efforts!

Well, they accepted it, of course, because this was a young player of rare talent - as became evident when Collegiate batted and Joe took to the crease.

He didn’t make very many, perhaps 15 or so, and took an hour about it, but there he stood resolute to some pretty lively bowling and sporting a very impressive technique.

Now Mr. Root is a Test match cricketer, no less, and once again looks as if he truly belongs.

Emerging with an average of 93 (73 and 20 not out) from his maiden Test is the proof of that.

All the unflappability that was evident back in those Collegiate days - after he became the youngest player to be awarded a scholarship to the Yorkshire cricket academy at 13 - was on display for England as they clinched a rare series win in India.

It takes temperament as well as talent to succeed in any sport and Joe, as he showed with his assertive nature as a boy among men, clearly has what it takes.

That, plus the benefit of an upbringing from a cricketer-dad in Matt Root and alongside a bright batting brother in Billy, who is also a fine prospect.

Joe turns 22 on December 30, which offers an interesting 48 hours in the approach to 2013 and a well deserved celebration.