Yorkshiremen make hard, gritty, uncompromising cricketers. Their game is played with attitude and only just short of a snarl.

Until suddenly they found Joe Root, calm, quiet, polite, diffident; 21-year-old and, as they say in his home town of Sheffield where the steel comes from, minding his manners.

You can still see the Tyke — that’s the nickname Yorkshiremen have given themselves and it suggests a street urchin, Jack the lad, someone who cannot resist a bit of naughtiness — in Root when he bats.

He reminds some of Michael Atherton but there is a world of difference between the university-educated, son of a headmaster, book-reading Atherton from Lancashire and a lad who went straight from school to the Yorkshire dressing room.

That is not a place where a teenager might learn to reflect coolly on life. “When I first went into the Yorkshire dressing room, it was noisier than a parrot house,” I heard from one of their more famous voices. “No place for a young lad but you grew up quick.”

There are no signs Root will achieve ordinary maturity early. He looks like a choir boy or a school prefect and he clearly speaks to the elder statesmen of the England side as if every word he spoke was very wise indeed. What is beyond doubt is that the lad can bat. India’s spinners tried too hard against this debut kid when he started and his first 11 balls brought him 10 runs. Afterwards nothing broke his concentration.

Just before he went in to bat I have no doubt someone said: “There’s no rush — take your time — just don’t get out” and he obeyed orders precisely.

As for his vows of silence, he will have no trouble maintaining those. Who does he remind you of most of all? Alastair Cook, captain, self-contained thinker and his own man to an outrageous degree. Perhaps that is how the 21st century cricketer will develop during the careers of Cook and Root which will leave some Australians aghast.

Both have the same burden to bear. Their surnames are a gift to tabloid sports pages sub-editors who in England are brought up to look for the pun, the mischievous use of words to fit into headlines that often allow a count of around six or seven letters a line.

Sometimes Cook and Root will find reason to giggle over those lines; sometimes they will find it difficult not to be offended; and when they bat together for any length of time the effect will be doubled.

There is no doubt they will bond for England in the next few years.

Even though he has batted at No. 6 in this Test, Root is by nature an opening bat, like his mentor Michael Vaughan, who also began his cricket life at Sheffield Collegiate. So if Nick Compton is deemed to have failed on this tour, we could see Cook-Root starting up the England innings — perhaps for the next many years.

Like Hobbs and Sutcliffe, Hutton and Washbrook, Boycott and Edrich. If he fills that role in Australia next winter, he may emerge as a tougher cricketer than the lad who signalled to the dressing room for his cap soon after tea. When he went to collect it at the end of the over he picked it up with a smile and a thank you.

So when he was out and clearly furious with himself for missing a century, a chance to overtake Kevin Pietersen as top scorer and be an even greater hero, it was gratifying to know that there was more than a touch of the Tyke even in this most polite young cricketer.


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