Very rarely do I write about something not related to Pakistan cricket. But certain matches, cricketers, and cricket related activities are so exceptional that I need to write about them.
Joe Root is one such cricketer who has compelled me to find out more about him and dedicate some time in praising his exceptional start in international cricket.
Three months ago, I had not even heard of Joe Root.
I first heard about him when England announced their test squad for India. According to the England selectors, Root's double century in a game against Hampshire was enough to earn him a place in the squad.
Even though the 2012 domestic season was not all that productive, Root, who plays for Yorkshire, had impressed several people that mattered in 2011 when he amassed over a 1,000 first class runs.
Considering that the England middle order boasted of Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, and there were thoughts of using Samit Patel at number 6 in India, Joe Root was unlikely to make his international debut in India.
But he got his chance in the 4th and final test of the series when the experiment with Samit Patel had failed and England gave the boy a game ahead of Morgan and Bairstow.
Joe Root's first test innings lasted 229 deliveries – the 6th longest debut innings by an England batsman in terms of number of balls. He scored a patient 73 and shared a century partnership with Matt Prior for the 6th wicket to get England out of a troubling position of 139-5.
Even then I didn't take much notice even though such display of patience, that too by a 22 year old, is very impressive.
Then came the ODI series against India, and Root played all 5 matches. He didn't get to bat in the first ODI, but in his first 4 ODI innings he produced scores of 36, 39, 57*, and 31.
Quite a start to an international career.
That innings of 57 was particularly impressive as he helped England to a total beyond 250, which they didn't look like achieving when he walked to the crease and England were 140 odd after 37 overs. His innings came off only 45 deliveries and included 8 boundaries and a six.
Root's success at the international level was so astonishing that it even surprised their ODI coach, Ashley Giles who went on record to say "I didn't know he could bat as well as he has".
That says more about Root's performances than Giles' knowledge of England's cricketers.
Root has continued to impress with every game. In the 1st ODI of the ongoing series against New Zealand he scored a solid 56 while putting on 90 runs with Trott for the 3rd wicket.
And then came today when Root produced the best innings of his short ODI career. Chasing an imposing 270 to win in the 2nd ODI against New Zealand, England were well placed at 149-2 in 32 overs when Root walked out to bat.
From that position, the match could have been a close contest, England could have struggled to reach the target, or England could have even collapsed.
But Root's unbeaten innings of 79 off only 56 deliveries took England to a comfortable 8 wicket win with over 2 overs to spare. Root knocked 7 boundaries and 2 sixes in his highest ODI score yet.
Root now has a tally of just under 300 ODI runs in 6 innings and is averaging a whopping 74.5!
I know its too early in his career and that he has a long way to go and he's only 22 and what not. But that is an exceptional start to what can also be an exceptional career.
It is quite unbelievable that Root's lowest completed international innings is 31 and that his 8 international innings have produce scores of 73, 20*, 36, 39, 57*, 31, 56, and 79*.
I doubt there was anyone out there who knew how good a batsman Joe Root was given that he averages less than 40 in first class cricket and 36 in List A cricket.
His ODI average is double his List A average! And 3 out of his 7 List A 50s have come in ODIs.
Root has been some find for England and considering that he has showed his batting skills in varying conditions in India and New Zealand, it looks like he has a long career ahead of him.
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