When Andrew Strauss first played for England in 2004 he waltzed his way into the hearts of headline writers. And now along comes Joe Root, who will enamour himself equally by the way he planted himself to the crease.
There is another similarity between the pair. Root is the first England player to have faced more than 200 balls in his debut innings since Strauss in 2004. Strauss scored 112 from 215 against New Zealand at Lord’s, Root 73 from 229 against India on the second day of the fourth Test and it shows that they have the priceless gift of stickability.
Root said: “I was just trying to battle the conditions and the situation and trying to keep it as simple as possible. You have just got to play to the situation and adapt to the conditions as quickly as possible. I think a better evaluation would be making sure that if a different pitch and a different situation came along I would adapt to that.”
Records are a bit sketchy from the early days, but in India in 1977 Roger Tolchard faced eight more balls than Root in making 67. The company improves. W G Grace received 294 balls in making 152 in his first innings back in 1880 and the Nawab of Pataudi negotiated 380 in scoring 102 not out against Australia at Sydney in 1932, making Root seem positively reckless.
Root has been earmarked for a few years by England. He arrived in India as the unknown in a blazer several sizes too big, which broke the ice. But his chance seemed to have gone when Nick Compton took the spare opener’s spot.
Root comes from Sheffield and played for Sheffield Collegiate, where his dad was on the same side as Michael Vaughan. Comparisons have already been drawn, which is grossly unfair to a 21-year-old batsman but inevitable.
“I would go down with my brother, knock up on the side when he’d be playing,” said Root. “It was always nice to have someone to look up to, going the same sort of route, club cricket, Yorkshire, England.”