January 16, 2021
The England captain’s superb double hundred in Galle brought back memories of his first Test eight years ago – and there is more to come
Joe Root is smiling again and shows he can get better still for England | Andy Bull
It’s 13 December 2012, it’s midway through the afternoon on the first day of the fourth Test in Nagpur, and England are struggling. They are defending a 2-1 lead in the series, but here, on a fearfully tricky pitch, four India spin bowlers have them tied up in knots. Alastair Cook, Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott are already out, Ian Bell has just gone, and Kevin Pietersen is in the middle, grafting hard, 64 not out from 164 balls on what he would later call “the toughest pitch I ever played on”. And in walks the new No 6, Joe Root, only 21, playing his very first Test. “All right, lad,” he says to Pietersen when he arrives in the middle, through a big, goofy grin, “what’s going on out here?”
You remember what happened next, how Root batted through the rest of that day and on long into the next. He finished up making 73 off 229 balls, and then got 20 more in the second innings as England batted out the draw. It was only just over eight years ago, which doesn’t seem so very long ago, until you look up the scorecard and all of a sudden it’s another era altogether.
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