Root showed the signs of a great captain aged just 14, says Bres­nan

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - By Ross Law­son

HE showed signs of his cap­taincy po­ten­tial at the age of just 14, and now Joe Root is in pole po­si­tion to make his­tory in an Eng­land role sim­ply made for him, ac­cord­ing to York­shire team-mate Tim Bres­nan.

Root takes charge of the se­nior side for the first time this sum­mer, re­plac­ing the out­go­ing Alas­tair Cook, who en­joyed many a suc­cess at the Eng­land helm.

Ashes vic­to­ries and a series win in In­dia were just a small smat­ter­ing of Cook’s high­lights but, five years after tak­ing the role, a new era is in place head­ing into a busy sum­mer.

That left Root, 26, a shoo-in for the va­cant role and Bres­nan was far from sur­prised hav­ing known, played and trained with him for more than a decade.

“Ever since he was a young kid, 14 or so, ask­ing coaches how to do some­thing, you al­ways knew that he was go­ing to turn into some­thing spe­cial,” said Bres­nan, pic­tured speak­ing at the launch of the One-Day Cup.

“Peo­ple were think­ing he was speak­ing way ahead of his years, ask­ing about what you have to do to play for Eng­land be­fore he’d even played a first­class game, and that’s shaped him ever since.

“He knew where he wanted to be, worked hard and now he’s there. He thinks about the game all the time, even down to which way the wind is blow­ing, and any­thing that will make a dif­fer­ence.

“He went away and made sure he got all the tools he needs to be a suc­cess­ful player and in do­ing so he’s be­come one of the best bats­man cur­rently play­ing. To do that at a young age is so rare.

“He’s go­ing to be a great captain, he has the abil­ity to sep­a­rate bat­ting from cap­taincy and he’ll be more than aware that lead­ing the team comes with its own ex­tra chal­lenges and pres­sures.”

That one day Root would lead his coun­try was al­most a given since mak­ing his Eng­land de­but at 21, with his bat­ting al­most in a league of its own – av­er­ag­ing more than 50, 40 and 40 in Test, ODIs and T20Is re­spec­tively.

Those fig­ures have taken him to a level of play­ing more games for his coun­try than county York­shire – a bit­ter­sweet pro­gres­sion for the Head­in­g­ley faith­ful at least.

That means cap­taincy has thus far passed him by at all lev­els, only lead­ing York­shire to one win against Not­ting­hamshire and de­feat to Mid­dle­sex, when the Lon­don­ers chased down a mam­moth 472 tar­get los­ing just three wick­ets, back in 2014.

But, for Bres­nan, cap­taincy will be a piece of cake for Eng­land’s star at­trac­tion both on and off the field, keen to im­part some words of wis­dom dur­ing his ju­nior’s bid to eclipse Cook’s record of 59 Tests in the role.

He added: “He has re­spon­si­bil­i­ties but he has taken in­ter­na­tional cricket in his stride, so why wouldn’t he be able to carry that on?

“He’s looked after York­shire for a cou­ple of games, one win and one loss, but we called him the “Crap­tain” for quite a few years which, look­ing back, was prob­a­bly quite harsh!

“He’ll be ab­so­lutely fine – and he’s got the bowl­ing at­tack for it to be eas­ier a task. As Dar­ren Gough used to tell me, cap­taincy is easy – all you have to do is flip a coin and then take a slip out if you’re be­ing hit for too many runs.

“If he con­tin­ues on that curve he’s go­ing to be one of the best bats­men Eng­land have pro­duced across all for­mats, there’s not many who have done it in all three for­mats.”

More than a decade since the pair met, Bres­nan has had the chance to fol­low Root in his jour­ney to the top.

That in­cluded a first-class de­but at just 19, a key de­but role in a series win in Aus­tralia as well as big Lord’s hun­dreds in the Ashes against Aus­tralia. It’s left the for­mer Eng­land all­rounder more than im­pressed with his de­vel­op­ment.

“When I first saw him as this scrawny 16-year-old he was barely hit­ting it off the square, now he’s knock­ing it ten rows back,” Bres­nan con­tin­ued.

“Give him some big bound­aries at Head­in­g­ley and we’ll see how he goes!

“All the best for him, ev­ery­one is hop­ing he does well and he should be in the role for a long time.”

As proud spon­sors of the One Day Cup, Royal Lon­don is giv­ing away match tick­ets to see the ac­tion live. Visit roy­al­lon­don­cricket.com to en­ter.

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