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Yorkshire batsman Joe Root ready to pass his next big Test
7:30pm Monday 4th March 2013 in Sport
Joe Root is already being portrayed by many as the man to open for England in their year of back-to-back Ashes.
The young Yorkshireman, therefore, begins a three-Test series in New Zealand tomorrow night with much to gain after his successful debut in Nagpur.
It was there that his painstaking half-century, from number six, helped to close out the draw which completed England’s historic first series win in India since 1984-85.
Nick Compton also played his part, however, throughout that campaign with a series of admirably determined and skilful innings at the top of the order.
It is a tough call which of the pair is the most deserving, or more importantly, most likely to succeed as Alastair Cook’s first-wicket partner for the high-profile year ahead.
Either way, Root appears inclined to let his bat do the talking.
“Just being a part of it and representing my country, it’s what you want to do growing up,” said the 22-year-old.
“To actually have that opportunity has been fantastic.
“I’m just trying to do things I’ve always done. I’ve not tried to change too much, just trying to play the situation I’ve been put in. It seems to have come off so far.”
That is an understatement, given Root’s rate of progress over the past two months, in which he has added Twenty20 and one-day international debuts to that maiden Test.
He has also set a new record in ODIs, by making 30 or more in each of his first six innings.
He has still yet to be dismissed under that score too, following his unbeaten 28 as England prefaced the Test series with a five-wicket verdict in Auckland to add ODI series success to their victory in the Twenty20s.
Throughout, Root has appeared the picture of calm authority at the crease.
“It would be wrong to say you don’t get nervous,” he said.
“But I’ve been just so excited that it’s overwhelmed my nerves and got me in a good frame of mind to perform well.”
His career path is on a dramatic upward curve at an early stage, and he will soon find out whether it is set to stay that way.
“I’m really looking forward to the next three weeks.
“I’ve been working very hard along with the rest of the lads to put a strong case forward for playing in the first Test.
“I’ve always wanted to play Test cricket from a young age – that’s what you dream about.”
Many sound judges are predicting a famous future for Root.
Michael Vaughan, for example, has suggested already that he will follow him all the way from their shared beginnings - albeit a generation apart - at Sheffield Collegiate CC to the England captaincy.
Root is not getting ahead of himself, however.
“That’s obviously very nice to hear.
“But I’ve only played a handful of games, so it would be wrong for me to start thinking about anything like that.”
Neither is he claiming just yet to be the latest in the dynasty of Yorkshire and England openers dating back through the ages to Herbert Sutcliffe, Len Hutton, Geoff Boycott and finally Vaughan.
“I’m very proud to be from Yorkshire.
“It’s got a huge history... you can’t really help where you’re from, can you?
“It’s obviously been there for a very long time now, and it would be lovely to be a part of it.”
He has come a long way already, from the teenage days when he could not pierce the field in the Yorkshire League.
But just like Hutton, who first began to draw a crowd a few miles further north in Bradford, no one could get him out either.
“I was so little growing up - I was way behind everyone else - it took me 50 overs to get 50,” he said.
“A lot of the time I was not out, but I just couldn’t get it off the square.
“They’d set a ring field, and I wasn’t able to get it past them.”
On more recent evidence, New Zealand – and Australia - will be well aware that is a tactic which is unlikely to work for long these days.
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