Root aims to be Lord’s of Manor

0
Have your say

It is one of those funny stories that sport tends to throw up, every so often.

Joe Root was a wide-eyed nine-year-old when he first saw the famous gates of Lord’s, back in 2000.

Sheffield Collegiate, the club he grew up with, had reached the final of the National Club Championship at the home of cricket, and his father, Matt, was playing.

Joe wasn’t content with watching, however, and made his way on to the famous outfield.

His journey was soon cut short by an overzealous steward.

Thirteen years later, that boy has become a man - and there will be no-one stopping English cricket’s brighest young talent from stepping on to that hallowed turf over the next five days.

He has earnt the right, to face New Zealand in a five-match test series beginning today, with a scintillating run of early-season form that has put him in with a chance of scoring 1,000 first-class runs by the end of May.

No man has done that since 1988, when Graeme Hick achieved the feat. No English-qualified player has done it since Bill Edrich in 1938.

The other players to have achieved the feat? Only names like W. G. Grace, Wally Hammond and Sir Donald Bradman!

So, no pressure then for young Joe. Not that there was anyway.

This is very much a boy in a man’s world, an old head on young shoulders.

Speak to him and you think he is younger than his 22 years - face him on a cricket field, and he possesses all the raw talent, determination and tactical awareness of a player who has been playing the game for years.

One hesitates to use the term ‘baby-faced assassin’, but it’s not a million miles off.

Root is not a physically imposing player, even by his own admission.

Before he enjoyed a seismic growth spurt that saw him shoot up six inches in the space of 18 months, he relied on a good eye and natural timing to accumulate runs.

Now, he has the stature to punish opponents - as you’ve seen with scores of 182 and 236 for Yorkshire, and a majestic 179 for the England Lions.

He has cemented his place for the New Zealand tour - and could end up facing the Aussies in the Ashes if he continues in the same vein.

But, for now, it is New Zealand who next stand in the way of England, and Root will finally live one of cricket’s great dreams when he walks out of the pavilion at Lord’s today, for the first time.

His dad, Matt, and brother Billy have beaten him to it, having played on opposing sides in a MCC v Young Cricketers game at the home of cricket earlier this month.

“We might have mentioned to Joe that playing at Lord’s is no big deal, and if he wants any advice he knows who to ask,” Matt said.

It may be his first time at Lord’s - but you imagine, somehow, that it won’t be his last.