Sturdy Joe Root plants himself in England picture

Yorkshireman has what it takes to thrive at the highest level, says his county coach Gillespie

While India were losing their heads in Nagpur, one young Englishman was keeping his so impressively it looked like he had been an international regular for years rather than a 21-year-old making his debut.

Joe Root came to the wicket with England teetering at 119 for 4 in their first innings. By the time his stubbornly impressive vigil had ended 229 balls later, the Yorkshireman had done more than simply steady the ship – he had set England firmly on course for the draw that would seal a famous series triumph.

Watching on back home was his county coach Jason Gillespie, a man who knows a thing or two about precocious talent, having played for Australia in one of the most extraordinary sides in history. He was impressed but far from surprised by Root's effort after he was called into the side as a replacement for Samit Patel for a Test that has left English cricket with a golden glow today as they dive back into the Twenty20 game.

The former Australian fast bowler now believes that Root is ready for the challenges that await him over the next 12 months and beyond, whatever his role in Pune today. "He took the opportunity with both hands, which is the mark of a really good player," says Gillespie. "He has a good head on his shoulders and the pressure was really on him.

"England were 2-1 up in the series and he went in when they were in trouble and in no way out of the woods. Players do get judged on how they handle pressure and although this is just one Test match and you don't want to get carried away, he certainly did everything right."

Former Yorkshire opener Michael Vaughan has already suggested that Root has the quality to not only bat with Alastair Cook at the top of the England order, but to replace him as captain one day.

Gillespie, though, insists that the latest cab off the Yorkshire rank will cope with the expectation in the same way he handled the pressure-cooker atmosphere in Nagpur.

"He's a very level-headed young cricketer," he said. "Obviously I had come to Yorkshire with a fresh pair of eyes and a clear mind. Joe had had a bit of a breakthrough year the season before and what impressed me as soon as I met him was his work ethic and his honesty.

"His honesty in the sense that he knows what he's quite good at and knows what he has to work on. He's willing to take constructive criticism and he takes that well. He looks to improve – that's the most important thing."

It's hard to imagine how he could have bettered his debut, after he followed up his marathon first innings with a composed 20 not out as the series petered out into a welcome draw on the fifth day.

Root's accession to the England side did not just happen overnight, however. The former England under-19 international had been earmarked for the Test side from an early age and in many ways epitomises the new breed of tough young players who have been schooled through the England and Wales Cricket Board's Performance Programme and Lions set-up.

The same could be said for his Yorkshire colleague Jonny Bairstow, who bounced back from his baptism of fire against the West Indies pace attack in his debut series by scoring a fine 95 against South Africa at Lord's last summer.

Gillespie does not necessarily agree that the England sides he played against were "soft" but he does acknowledge the enormous change in attitude in the country's best young cricketers today. "I don't know if soft is the right terminology but what I do know from what I've seen is that Joe puts time and effort into his game and asks good questions," says Gillespie.

"He's not backward in coming forward, he talks when we have team conversations and he's happy to contribute despite being a very young player.

"He's willing to take things on the chin and if he steps out of line he'll stick his hand up and ask how he can get better. These sorts of character traits can build a player. Sometimes a player will say to you that they want to hear honest feedback and a lot of the young guys now really mean that, even if it's not what they want to hear.

"Unfortunately you do get players who say they want honest communication but it's only when they want to hear something good. That's the real difference with players like Joe."

He will need that toughness should he get the call-up to take on Australia next summer but if that comes Gillespie believes Root is more than ready. "He'll relish it," Gillespie says. "He has scored runs for everyone he has played for."

The only man to bat longer than Root on debut was Roger Tolchard, who faced eight more balls against India in Kolkata in January 1977. The Leicestershire man, though, would make just three further appearances. Root is destined to play many more.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones