Root cherishes memorable Test debut
On December 13, 2012 a lifelong dream came true for Joe Root, a 21-year-old youngster from Yorkshire. On that day Root became the 655th man to represent England in Test cricket. And determined to make the occasion even more memorable, the young man played an innings that reflected his character, technique and temperament.
On a slow track with variable bounce, Root scored 73 runs off 229 balls to help England to a potentially match-winning first-innings total of 330. It was incredible how he overcame the jitters of a Test debut and produced an innings of class and substance.
“It will be wrong to say that you didn’t have nerves when going in to bat for the first time in Test cricket,” Root admitted later in the day. “But I have a great team around and they were very helpful. Once I was in the middle, I was quite relaxed.”
Root was told the day before the Test that, like his captain, Alastair Cook, he too will be donning the England Test cap for the first time in Nagpur. And the announcement came as a surprise for him. “It was a surprise, but I got myself in a good frame of mind once I knew I was playing. I just tried to get around my head as quickly as I could and get myself ready,” he said.
Test debut in India is nothing short of baptism by fire for a batsman from the West. And the challenge only gets bigger when you’re only two seasons old in first-class cricket. But some good advice from the seniors ahead of his first Test innings did young Root some good.
“More than anything, I was just asked to keep my footwork quick and very precise and really grind out because the field was quite defensive and it wasn’t a fast-scoring innings. So, it was all about being patient in everything you do,” he said.
While he obviously wanted to make this a memorable debut, Root said a maiden Test half-century in his very first innings wasn’t something that he was focussing on.
“I wasn’t thinking of that far ahead if I’m being honest. But looking back now, you always dream of such stuff as a kid. It has just made me more determined to better what I have done so far if given an opportunity in the future,” he said.
After batting contributions from Root, Mike Prior and Kevin Pietersen, England are in the driver’s seat by reducing India to 87/4. James Anderson picked three of those wickets and Root hoped England’s spearhead could wrap up the Indian innings quickly on Day 3.
“Jimmy bowled fantastically well. It’s different in England where the ball is swinging and seaming along. Over here he’s bowled very well, using the conditions, bowled straight and got reverse swing It was a great spell and it’s going to be a big period tomorrow morning. Hopefully, he can keep bowling the way he has till now, throughout the series.”