Sez Les: Joe has a root of steel

Brothers Billy Root, left, and Joe Root
Brothers Billy Root, left, and Joe Root
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Think choirboy. Would you then associate the word steel? Almost certainly not.

Youthful-looking Joe Root was described in one article I saw as ‘looking like a choirboy’. Of course, looks can be deceptive.

You don’t handle a first home Test match appearance at Lord’s, of all places, if you’re all sweetness and light. Or perform on the biggest stage in your sport as nonchalantly as if you’ve been there a hundred times before, if you’re a shrinking violet.

No, there’s steel in there alright and close watchers may have seen something of it when he was dismissed in the second innings for what proved the top score of the First Test, 71 - more than New Zealand managed in total in their second innings!

Many would have been happy with 71 on their Lord’s debut. But you could see Sheffield’s latest emergence on the national sporting scene was rather brassed off.

OK, no one likes getting out, but his gritted teeth reaction, his firm little bat swish, betrayed the fact that he thought he’d thrown away a great opportunity to really make a mark. A hundred at Lord’s. It added weight to those who say that here is someone with a real determination to do better and better. You might suspect it’s a steely determination.

As he was compiling the runs, I wondered if he might emulate another cricketing man from South Yorkshire who got a hundred on his first appearance at Lord’s for England. That was John Hampshire, Yorkshire batsman and former top Test match umpire (and still living locally), who marked his Test debut with 107 against the West Indies there in 1969.

Of course, there was even more for the memory bank for the Root family last Saturday when Joe’s younger brother Billy (who is on the MCC groundstaff) was out there fielding as 12th man. Two sons for the price of one.

They were brothers-in-arms then but expect some sibling rivalry come next football season. Joe supports the Blades; Billy supports the Millers!

Both emerged through Sheffield Collegiate CC as did Michael Vaughan and another ex-Yorkshire cricketer who is now one of the world’s leading umpires and does Test matches around the world, Richard Kettleborough.

At lunchtime of today’s Test coverage, Sky will be showing a feature on the Collegiate club.