Joe Root has been announced as captain of the England National Team, taking over from record-breaker Alastair Cook. Root, 26, has enjoyed a splendid run of form in all three formats for England and now his career is taking another path. He’s now the 80th man to captain the England test side.
His father is sure to be one proud dad, but let’s be honest – when hasn’t he been? The pride has escalated from being picked for Yorkshire’s young age groups, to becoming the leader of the national team. Joe’s career has never really stalled.
His move up the cricketing ladder has been natural, smooth, yet tangibly exciting. Going from a baby faced blocker to a national star across all three formats of the international game truly shows how far he has gone. Now, still at a young age, his career only seems to be getting better.
His cricketing family will inevitably take some plaudits. His grandad, Don, and father, Matt, have travelled to more cricket grounds than the average cricketing badger – and contrasting the start to now is sure to make them proud.The option has changed from a cold, dark day at Westwood, to a sun soaked Antigua, all due to the exceptional development of their boy, Joe.
His brother Billy is too an outstanding cricketer. Currently plying his trade at Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, where, at the end of last year, he broke into the side with a very well made 50 at Somerset. The competitiveness between the pair has always been explicit, despite a few childhood spats in the nets, it has been a very mature competition. Complimenting each other’s ability and ensuring they reach the potential stardom that their natural, wonderful cricket ability could take them.
Not forgetting mother, Helen, who now dubs herself an “expert cricket washer.” She, too, has watched Joe blossom in various counties, cities and now countries, as her lad continues to flourish on the international scene.
Joe made his Collegiate first team debut at 15, and everyone who played with him that day knew this was the start of something very special. He was a mainstay in the team until Yorkshire Academy came calling, where – in the now-split-up Yorkshire League – it meant Joe would come up against Sheffield Collegiate whilst playing for his counties development side. This would see him play against family members Billy and Matt. On June 25th 2009, Joe made 51 against Collegiate before taking 5-40; two of these dismissals included Billy and Matt, something that’s sure to have never been mentioned by Joe ever again….hmmm.
His Yorkshire first team debut came just three months later as he played a Pro40 game at Headingley vs Essex, where he scored 63. In 2011, he made his County Championship debut at New Road vs Worcester. In that same season made his England Lions bow at Scarborough – where he scored 66.
His maiden 100 came in the same month at Sussex where he scored 160, and by the end of this breakthrough season he had scored 1,013 runs.
In December 2012, he made his England debut in Nagpur, where he battled to 77 off 229 balls. This birthed the nickname “baby faced blocker.” Later that month he made his T20 debut and then had his ODI debut in the New Year.
His maiden international hundred came at his home ground, Headingley where he made a 167-ball 104 in the middle order of England’s test side. He then brought up his maiden Ashes ton with a splendid 180, as England won the Ashes. Later that year came the only major personal blow in his career, after a horror tour for the country, Joe was dropped for the fifth and final test, as England sought after a change of fortune. They would soon realise dropping England’s best player would not be the way forward!
In 2014, he scored his first ODI ton in Antigua, a feat which was made more incredible as it was later revealed he had scored the ton with a fractured thumb after he was struck by a short ball from Ravi Rampaul. He battled back to full fitness and captained Yorkshire at Lord’s and then in their title-clinching win at Nottinghamshire. He was also named in the ICC Test team of the Year, after another splendid English summer which included a then top score against Sri Lanka of 200 not out.
Centuries galore in 2015 as he brought up a 100 on five occasions, he scored 1278 test runs, which was more than anyone else in the world, which subsequently earned him the tag of being the best batsman in the world and won another Ashes medal.
A World T20 final followed in 2016, where he took two wickets including the major scalp of the destructive Chris Gayle. He then scored a mammoth 254 against Pakistan in the summer of 2016 as he once again flourished in all three formats.
His humour has remained an integral part of his game; going from impersonating Bob Willis on the Sky cameras to scaring the life out of a Yorkshire and Derbyshire League side by whiting up in his England gears and pretending to be playing alongside his dad.
Sheffield Collegiate are very proud to be the first club that saw Joe go on this path to stardom, and with a blossoming junior section, led by Josh Varley, Andy Tyas and Ben Fielding showing no signs of repelling, it is surely only a matter of time before the next star is born. On Friday nights at Abbeydale Sports Ground, over 100 children aged 6-11 regularly attend the Michael Vaughan Cricket Academy, which has unearthed a number of players that now play senior cricket at the club. The respective junior age groups ranging from u13-17 then train in the week, meaning that during the season there is cricketing activity taking place at the club 7-days a week.
Rooty has been an absolutely outstanding servant to Sheffield Collegiate, Yorkshire and England, and he deserves the support of everyone in his next mouthwatering challenge. The club are delighted for him and wish him the greatest of success as captain of the country.
All the best Rooty,
words by Alex Willis