Yorkshire star can be a future Test captain

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it was just over three years ago that Joe Root, Sheffield’s bright young cricketing star, signed his first professional deal with Yorkshire, his boyhood club.

Then, as a 19-year-old barely known outside his home county, he told me: “I am right at the bottom end now, and I just need to work my way up and up.

“I just have to get myself prepared for any chances that come my way and make sure that I take them when I can.”

And boy, in the months and years since, has he done just that.

Since making his Yorkshire debut in September 2009 - making a half-century against Essex at Headingley - Root has gone on to establish himself as one of the brightest young talents on the English cricket scene.

From playing against Sheffield Collegiate as a youngster, you could see even then that Joe - and his younger brother Billy - were a class above. At the age of just 13, Joe had the nickname ‘FEC’ - Future England captain.

Now he’s another step closer after making his test debut in India. He has arrived on the scene in style, after spending almost five hours at the crease for his vital first-innings 73 - but still, the expectation doesn’t faze him.

“It’s a cliché, I know, but this is a dream come true,” Root told this newspaper, just a matter of hours after becoming a member of the first England team to win a test series in India since 1985.

“My first test tour, then my test debut, and now my first series win - it just doesn’t get any better than this.

“I am living the dream.”

Root, who has been added to England’s Twenty20 squad as batting cover, admitted that he was nervous after being told he was playing 24 hours before the start in Nagpur - but the 21-year-old has an enviable knack of not letting pressure affect his batting.

His first innings half century meant that he has now scored 50s on his debut for Yorkshire’s second eleven and first eleven, plus the England Lions and now the full England test team.

Undoubtedly talented, Root has also had to cope with expectation from a very young age.

Almost from the moment that he first picked up a cricket bat as a three year old, watched proudly by his parents Matt and Helen, he has endured comparisons with Collegiate clubmate Michael Vaughan, England’s legendary former captain.

Indeed, the celebratory champagne had barely been corked in the England dressing room last week when Vaughan, who famously led England to an Ashes win over Australia, tipped his young protégé as a future captain of his country.

“One day Joe Root will captain England,” Vaughan wrote in his national newspaper column.

“I hate to put pressure on him, but I have to be honest and say I see a young man with real leadership qualities.

“Obviously it will take a while. Alastair Cook will be in the job for a long time but within a couple of years Joe will be vice-captain.

“He is always talking about the game. The best players think and breathe cricket all day, every day.

“He is a young Cook, perhaps, and like Cook he has the character and confidence to succeed.”

Admittedly, there are worse people to be compared to than Vaughan and Cook, two of the finest English batsmen of our generation.

But that weight of expectation could have affected some, who would have either wilted under the pressure or started to believe their own hype.

Not Root, though - the boy, fast becoming a man, who just loves the game.