Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket, has heaped praise on Sheffield star Joe Root ahead of the eagerly-anticipated Cricket World Cup later this month.
England kick off their campaign against joint-hosts Australia on Valentine’s Day and Root - who scored three one-day hundreds last season, including one against the West Indies with a broken thumb - is expected to form a key part of their challenge from the middle order.
The 24-year-old endured a torrid Ashes series down under last winter as England lost 5-0 to Australia, but recovered to also hit three centuries in the Test arena in 2014.
And Downton said: “Joe is a very, very impressive young man who’s got a very clear focus and very astute cricketing brain.
“You forget he’s only just turned 24.
“I watched him score a hundred in Antigua in March, with a broken thumb. Luckily, there was a rain break for 20 minutes that allowed the painkillers to come on.
“He basically constructed a hundred with one hand.
“He couldn’t put any power through his right hand, and he played the most extraordinarily mature innings, which was just pure grit, game nous, cricket sense.”
“Nobody had a good tour of Australia,” Downton added.
“He was one [who struggled], and got dropped. But to come back and score six hundreds in a year has been a phenomenal achievement.
“He was the one that said, ‘It may be that the middle order will suit me well’. [Coach} Andy Flower had identified that he played spin extremely well. His temperament in the middle order seems terrific. He was given the opportunity to bat at five and absolutely nailed it in the summer. He’s a real cricketer of substance now.”
Meanwhile, Yorkshire stars Steve Patterson and Alex Lees have signed new deals at Headingley. Both players were instrumental in Yorkshire’s County Championship success last season. Lees has signed until December 2019, while Patterson is now tied up until December 2016.