It was the best weekend of Ashes hero Joe Root’s life – and his cricket-mad Sheffield family were at Lord’s to share it with him.
The 22-year-old from Dore was named man of the match after top-scoring with 180 to help England send the struggling Australians to an embarrassing 347-run defeat in the second Test.
And to cap that Joe’s off- spinners took two key wickets, including that of the tourists’ captain Michael Clarke.
Proud dad Matt said he had been watching from the stands with mum Helen, Joe’s girlfriend Caitlin and grandad Don – with younger brother Billy there on the pitch, acting as 12th man to bring Joe a drink after he reached his century.
Matt said: “It was the pinnacle of Joe’s life so far – in some ways he’s achieved all there is to achieve.”
“The most important thing is that Joe has now got the opener’s spot nailed – he’s shown he can succeed at the top of the order and he’ll be there for some time to come, especially for the Ashes series down under this winter.”
Matt said Joe had been forced to fight at a time when his team were under pressure in the second innings, losing three quick wickets.
“He gave an early chance in the slips which wasn’t taken and then had to survive a really difficult first hour – I could see he was tired as he’d been in the field all day,” he said.
“The way he got out to a high risk shot was Joe all over – but he wasn’t playing for his 200, he was playing for the team. And he isn’t really one for milestones, he just wants to be involved.”
Joe became the youngest English batsman to make an Ashes century at Lord’s – to add to his debut ton at Headingley against New Zealand in May.
But he said the Lord’s innings was the highlight of his career so far.
“To get a hundred against Australia is something that you always want to do as a kid growing up and to do it here at Lord’s is very special.
“I just want to keep contributing. Every time you go out to bat it is obviously an opportunity to do that. It was obviously quite a tricky situation and it was nice to get through it and kick on later in the day.”
The Root family now face a busy August, with Matt confirming they will be at the three remaining Tests at Old Trafford, Durham and the Oval.
He said: “These are happy times – it’s quite an adventure for us all. Though I’ll have to miss Saturday at the Oval Test as we’re at a wedding.”
n Joe’s star rising : Page 36