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International Cricket - Cricket: Root confirms England greatness

Joe Root was feted as an England regular long before his rise to the Test team and he has delivered on his undoubted potential ever since.

The Yorkshireman scored a fine unbeaten 115 to steer England to a five-wicket win in the first Test against New Zealand and, in the process, become the second England batter to bring up 10,000 Test runs. Perhaps rather eerily, he and Sir Alastair Cook reached the milestone at the exact same age of 31 years and 157 days.

We take a look at how Root has progressed from an impressive debut against India in Nagpur back in 2012, when the cultured right-hander made 73 and 20 not out.

First ton comes on home turf

Root showed that the big stage was no problem in the summer of 2013 when he made his first Test century at Headingley against New Zealand, a knock which persuaded the selectors to promote him to open the innings.

That looked like an inspired move when Root made 180 against Australia in a Lord's Ashes Test match soon after.

However, he struggled for form for the rest of that series and had dropped back down the order when England headed Down Under in the winter of 2013 - where he was one amongst many to fail to fire as the tourists were whitewashed 5-0.

Back on song against Sri Lanka

Returning to home comforts in England, Root made his first Test double-century against Sri Lanka in the summer of 2014 - he has since gone on to pass 200 on a further four occasions, with his highest score still the 254 he racked up against Pakistan at Old Trafford in July 2016.

His five double-centuries rank him second for England behind the great Wally Hammond, who reached 200 on no fewer than seven occasions.

A series tally of 518 runs at an average of 103.60 followed against India in the second half of the summer of 2014 and from that point on Root has been simply undroppable.

He was leading England runscorer as the Ashes were won back in 2015 and by 2017 his ascent to the captaincy was complete, as he took charge for the home series against South Africa.

Captaincy burden weighs heavily at first

At first, leading his side seemed to sit quite easily with Root, however, he soon founds things a little tougher as he was well below his best in 2018 and 2019 - with an old habit of being unable to turn 50s into hundreds coming back to haunt him.

However, doubts about his ability to carry the responsibility of leadership and still being his team's standout batter were finally put to bed in 2021, as Root racked up 1,708 runs in 15 Tests - which placed him third on the all-time list of most Test runs in a calendar year.

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Root record far from perfect

He opened up in 2021 with knocks of 228 and 186 in Sri Lanka, before making 218 against India in Chennai - although the rest of the latter series was not anywhere near as productive.

Returning home Root was subdued in two Tests against New Zealand, but then burst into life against India, making centuries in three out of four matches.

Style so easy on the eye

Not only has Root made a huge number of runs, but he has done so in a manner that suggests, possibly wrongly, that sometimes he finds batting very easy.

A full array of shots sees Root a little more prolific on the offside, with the cover drive and the dab down to third man his trademark shots.

A tendency to be caught LBW to full deliveries seaming back in remains a slight blot, while he is often loathe to take on the hook shot and plays within his limitations - an approach which has clearly proved to be the right one.

Where does Root stand?

Cold hard stats show the classy right-hander to be the second-highest Test runscorer for England, with only former colleague Sir Alastair Cook (12,472) above him.

The list of names directly below Root show just how highly he is to be valued, with Graham Gooch, Alec Stewart, David Gower and Kevin Pietersen the next four names on the all-time list.

Globally, Root has become the 13th batter to reach 10,000 Test runs, with Sachin Tendulkar way out in front on 15,291 runs - with the Indian maestro having played in an astonishing 200 Tests.

Tendulkar was close to 40 when he finally left the Test match arena and Root is still just 31, so he has plenty of time left to climb the ladder further and he could even end up at the head of the list.

Reaching that 'Everest' would ensure that Root is rightly regarded as one of the all-time greats of the game.

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