Joe Root was named England's 80th Test captain
There are those who remember him as a child playing “serious” cricket shots with little brother Billy on the boundary edge as dad Matt played club games in the middle at Sheffield Collegiate’s ground.
There are those who have first-hand knowledge of his years at King Ecgbert’s School and Worksop College or Yorkshire’s academy and into its senior ranks who were taken by his singular application and mature head.
And there are those in the ECB’s England Performance Programmes who identified a player who had not only the talent and temperament to make it but also exhibited leadership potential from an early age.
So, after the much-anticipated announcement that Root will be the 80th England Test captain succeeding Alastair Cook who stepped down last week, the chorus of ‘I told you so’ up and down the country will have been deafening.
Root has carried the burden of ‘future England captain’ for at least the last eight of his 26 years and he has done so with no great difficulty either on or off the pitch.
Joe Root will take over from Alastair Cook
True, the real test will come with the pressure of the captaincy and there has been nothing so far to suggest that it will be a test he cannot pass with flying colours.
Root is the product of a cricket-mad family.
His father Matt was a decent club cricketer for Sheffield Collegiate CC where he played with Michael Vaughan and it was outside the boundary ropes at Abbeydale playing with his brother Billy that his love for the game first sparked. Nick Gaywood, who played at Collegiate with both Matt, Joe and Vaughan, remembers the two brothers playing mini-games while the Yorkshire League matches progressed.
“We first noticed Joe and his brother Billy playing with a bat and a wind ball around the boundary edge,” he said. “It was always entertaining because it was a mini-version of what was going in on the pitch – proper shots, running between the wickets.
“It was obvious they could play and Joe was playing senior cricket by the time he was 12 and captaining Yorkshire at Under 13s. He wasn’t big or strong but he had an instinctive understanding of the cricket. He just understood it.”
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Joe Root celebrating England winning the 2015 Ashes
A photo posted by Michael vaughan (@michaelvaughan) on Feb 13, 2017 at 2:51am PST
Root went to King Ecgbert School in Dore, near Sheffield – the same school Jessica Ennis-Hill attended – but switched from state to private and Worksop College where he was a weekly boarder on a cricket scholarship at 15.
By that stage his talent was readily apparent. He was embedded in Yorkshire’s system and England were not far behind. In 2010 he was on an Under 19s tour of Bangladesh and a World Cup in New Zealand.
Root made his Test debut in Nagpur in December 2012 and was being tested as a possible future captain, leading the Lions against New Zealand in tour matches the following summer.
Throughout he has retained a glint in his eye: Never afraid to take the mickey out of senior colleagues, see the funny side of difficult situations, or poke an opponent or two.
His reaction to adversity – like when Mitchell Johnson was trying to knock his helmet off in the 2013-14 Ashes – has generally been to smile.
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Ryan Sidebottom, whose peg at Yorkshire sits next to Root’s, said: “He was quiet at first when he came in the dressing room but confident. But slowly we we got the real him. He’s definitely cheeky but not arrogant.
“I have lost count of the number of times I’ve got back to my place after flogging myself in the field all day, pulled my socks on and he’s cut the ends off them!”
The captaincy may clip some of the edges from that cheekiness but hopefully not too much as having his sunny outlook has done no harm to his career so far.
Indeed it has helped to ground him throughout.
Root will have his hands full with the England captaincy but it has also come to him at the right time.
Last year he married Carrie and in January the pair celebrated the arrival of first child, Alfred William.
Last month Root was asked whether he felt experienced enough to take over the captaincy should Cook stand down.
“It’s one of those things you have to learn on the job,” he said.
“Being a dad you don’t know what to do until you just sort of go with it and see how it goes. I imagine that it would be very similar. I’d like to think I could do it. I feel that I would have something to offer.” Plenty of people will be proved wrong if he fails.