He showed signs of his captaincy potential when aged just 14, and now Joe Root is in pole position to make history in an England role simply made for him, that’s 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 the 26-year-old Root all-but a shoe-in for the vacant role, with Bresnan 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, speaking at the launch of the Royal London 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 first-class 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, One-Day and Twenty20 Internationals 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 Bresnan believes captaincy will be a piece of cake for England’s star attraction both on and off the field, and is 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 in my point of view 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 – with the former England all-rounder 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.”
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