Not many batsmen get to play 100 Test matches – and even fewer reach that milestone by the age of 30.
Joe Root marked his achievement with a stunning century against India on Friday and gave everyone a timely reminder that he is well-placed to become England’s greatest ever batsman.
Root is fresh off the back of a double century in Sri LankaSri Lanka Cricket
Statistically, that title belongs to Alastair Cook, who is the nation’s leading Test run scorer – if that’s how you want to judge it.
With the current England captain two-thirds of the way towards his predecessor’s total of 12,472 – and still scoring runs for fun – it would be astonishing if Root doesn’t finish his career sat at the table of all-time greats.
While that remains to be seen, we can already call Root one of the game’s true modern stars, proving that players can still thrive in Tests and limited overs if they’re talented enough.
Joe Root stats ahead of 1st Test vs India
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The 30-year-old boasts a mixture of Cook’s patience, Ian Bell’s technique, and Kevin Pietersen’s flair – rendering him fifth in the ICC Test batting rankings and already a legend in the eyes of many.
Besides a mercurial modern player, Root is also a brilliant sporting leader for our time. He leads the way by example both with his batting and his behaviour.
That’s particularly impressive given that Root was once better known as the kid who got punched by David Warner in Walkabout.
Back in 2013, Root took one to the face from the Australian opener in a Birmingham bar on a boozy night out with a few England teammates.
Warner claimed to think Root was mocking South Africa batsman Hashim Amla by wearing an Australian wig on his chin – although the Englishman was only mocking his own inability to grow facial hair.
Root has since claimed Warner’s wicket – even though he’s only a part-time bowlerGetty Images – Getty
The Aussie said in 2015: “Root decided to come in and take it off my mate’s head and start acting the way he did. I thought it was a bit inappropriate the way he went about that stuff so I went over and tried to take it off him.
“I just think in today’s society you shouldn’t be fooling around with that kind of stuff. And he probably didn’t mean anything by it at all but I probably let my aggression and alcohol take over.”
Far from being racially inappropriate, Root has actually become a champion for equality in recent years.
“Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”
Joe Root responds to sledging from Windies bowler Shannon Gabriel.
Full story: https://t.co/nRfSmWU5q6 pic.twitter.com/ghoDyGxUOi
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) February 12, 2019
Back in 2019, the England captain took a stand against homophobic abuse – which far too often gets normalised or ignored altogether in sport.
While many sportsmen say the right things, Root actually walked the walk in the heat of battle.
After an alleged slur from West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel, Root told him not to use sexuality as an insult, saying: “There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”
It’s been quite the journey for Root since that infamous night in Birmingham – and it’s far from over yet.
In a year which includes a tour to India, a visit from India, and an Ashes series, 2021 could determine where Root stands among the legends of English cricket.