Eng v Ind Joe Root

Published on August 1st, 2018 | by Arunabha Sengupta

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Joe Root: The boy has grown into a man

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“It may be very late in the day, but a certain 77-year-old former opener can try to take a leaf out of Root’s book. That man in question, though, is yet to grow out of his days as a petulant child”

Adil Rashid is “a spoilt brat”. Proclaiming his thunderous verdict, Geoff Boycott went on to say that the Yorkshire leggie “should keep his mouth shut”.

Trust Geoff Boycott to come down on a slightly controversial issue like a ton of imbecilic bricks, amplifying the sensationalism quotient by a factor of hundreds.

There is nothing hardboiled or Yorkshire about it. It is just that Boycott, himself one of the most curiously controversial characters in cricket, has retained his propensity for being caustic. It is compounded by the Reality TV-fed audience who tend to lap up unbalanced and objectionable personal attacks as entertainment. This has indulged the former opening batsman into developing the aura of a black humorist of sorts. Anyway, Boycott does lead the field by some margin for the title of the ‘Grumpy Old Man’ of cricket. In spite of competition from a certain South African superstar who remains bitter about the two decades of isolation limiting his career to a few Tests.

Rashid’s reluctance to play red-ball cricket for Yorkshire and his subsequent inclusion in the Test side has called for severe criticism from both Boycott and another former Yorkshire stalwart Michael Vaughan.

Whatever be the right and wrong surrounding the issue, and there certainly are plenty of shades of grey, Boycott’s reaction is typical of the man and does hardly any favours to the game.

Enter yet another Yorkshireman. Young, boyish and earnest, almost the exact antithesis of Boycott. And if one is not swayed by the gold dust of time that adds lustre to the deeds of the past stalwarts, the young Yorkshireman’s deeds in Test cricket currently are at least of the same class, if not superior, to the older man’s.

Joe Root has been trying hard to develop from the boy to the man. He has even developed some semblance of facial hair, to haul him into the realms of serious manhood. But the deference with which he answers each and every pressman’s questions, the spontaneous smile that is flashed whenever something amuses or slightly confuses him, and even in the way he is sometimes found holding the door open for a couple of media-men as they walk out of the press conference, he remains the rather dazed school-kid who has suddenly been made the Prefect of his class.

Yet, it was Root whose quiet assurance upstaged the bluster of Boycott on the eve of the first Test of this high-voltage series. Without any histrionics, the England captain has unequivocally stated that he  had final say in the selection of Rashid, and that he deemed the criticism of his Yorkshire teammate rather unfair.

“In terms of the criticism, people are entitled to their opinions and can voice what they want. I probably think it’s slightly unfair but that’s my opinion,” was how Root summarised his answer when asked about the comments of Boycott.

It was a calm response, during which he assured the media that Rashid was not unduly worried about the criticism himself.

Root’s responses were understated, balanced, yet firm in a no-nonsense way, and he lost none of his charm in the process. This does indicate that the boy has actually grown into a capable man.

His stubble, nurtured through much hard work, may not yet mask the boyish looks and characteristics. However, his measured responses were quite exemplary.

It may be very late in the day, but a certain 77-year-old former opener can try to take a leaf out of Root’s book. That man in question, though, is yet to grow out of his days as a petulant child.

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About the Author

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Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and the author of Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of The Ashes. He tweets @senantix.



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