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Joe Root and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Joe Root
Joe Root of England walks off after being dismissed. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in cricketing terms is something of an exclusive club. It does not restrict entry to anyone, but it has a prerequisite. Joe Root, England’s flamboyant batsman has all or perhaps most of the requirements. Does Root have the temperament to be a part of this elite group of cricketers? Of course, he does.

For a long time now, he has been tipped to be the captain of England. It is something that will eventually happen, but at the moment, it is fair to say that Joe Root is certainly in the form of his life. At first glance, Root doesn’t look much older than 16 or 17. There is a twinkle in his eye, a smile on his face that attests the aforementioned statement. However, behind the twinkle, there is a very serious cricketer. A cricketing monster of sorts, who is so serious that he has the ability to cause destruction on those he wishes upon.

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Whenever there is cricket happening at Old Trafford, Manchester, there is always something special in the air. In the cosplay, you are almost certain to find a quick collection between Superheroes and the Elm street monsters. The 25-year old Joe Root certainly seems to enjoy the occasion to the fullest. Whether it is the cosplay, the kick he gets out of playing against Pakistan, or perhaps even Old Trafford, Root was in the mood to score runs.

It all began with the fall of the wicket of Alex Hales. Mohammad Amir’s absolute peach of a delivery ensured that the stumps of Alex Hales were well and truly dislodged and his defenses breached yet again. Enter Joe Root. Of course, he still had the twinkle and the innocent smile in his eyes. However, there was something dead serious about that smile. He had failed to get going in the first Test at Lords. Now, it was time for his willow to do the talking.

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The wicket at Manchester has a reputation of being supremely vicious. There is not a hint of grass on the surface, yet, the ball seems to swing. Root began playing each ball to its merit. Three left-arm seamers had been let loose by Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq. These are not some mickey mouse pacers that Pakistan boast of. These are some of perhaps the best fast bowlers one could find on a talent scout whilst scouring the vast ends of Pakistan. Misbah also had a secret weapon.  This was Yasir Shah. The latter had taken 10 wickets at Lords and was certainly revved up with the occasion of becoming the fastest to 100 Test wickets in Test cricket’s lifelong history.

One over against Mohammad Amir and Joe Root’s twinkling eyes had become dead serious. He knew what he was up against. He knew he had to make up for the debacle at Lord’s, and he was going to make things right once again. A few scoops and pulls to the fence and Root was well on his way to a massive score. Although the Pakistani pace attack lacked the fire it boasted of in the previous match, it certainly wasn’t easy facing up to the might of the Amir-Rahat-Riaz trio.

Root raced away to a well-deserved half-century. However, he knew that matches are not won by just making scores of 50’s (Test matches especially). This thought perhaps prompted him to go on the offensive. As he later recalled, “I wanted to nullify those Lord’s dismissals from my game,” Root said. “That’s why I was so revved up when I reached 200. It seemed like a reward for all the hard work. It was pleasing to make one count.”

Long after reaching yet another ton, Misbah realized that he had a game on his hands. His calmness was being stretched to the limit. The 42-year old was out of ice and a dark cloud of impatience was hanging over his head. However, Root was perhaps the last person on the field who thought about what was happening in the mind of Misbah. He carried on his merry way, looking invincible as he did. Before anyone realized it, including He-man and the Avengers in the crowd, Joe Root had batted for almost three-quarters of Day 2. He had smashed records with his 254 and was perhaps the best batting performance by anyone in an England shirt since Jonathan Trott’s 168 in the 2010 edition of the Ashes series.

Also read – Alastair Cook – The English Wall!

The no. 3 position on any batting lineup is something supremely crucial and important. Joe Root may not be the most flamboyant batsman, this inning goes on to show the ‘True Grit’ and guts of Joe Root. As George Dobell puts it “ And this innings, coming after one Test where he struggled to adapt to the different demands of the No. 3 position, suggests he is learning fast. It’s still premature to call him a great batsman, but he may be the closest thing to an English-born one since Graham Gooch and David Gower. And, by the end of his career, we may well have to go much further back than that to find his equal.”

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