Special tribute left Joe Root feeling emotional before his brilliant Test ton
Joe Root revealed a star-studded pre-match tribute led by Ben Stokes left him feeling “all over the place” with emotion before he steeled himself to mark his 100th Test appearance with a brilliant century against India.
Root was left in no doubt about how special his milestone outing was as he was treated to a selection of video messages from a host of friends, family, former players and famous faces on the eve of the first Test in Chennai.
As well as the 13 other living members of England’s 100-cap club, the late Sir Colin Cowdrey is the 14th, he was toasted by the likes of Harry Kane, Ed Sheeran, Lee Westwood as well as several representatives of his beloved Sheffield United.
Stokes, Root’s vice-captain and close friend, was also on hand with a heartfelt speech at the commemorative cap presentation and by the time Root went out for the toss, it had all started to get the better of him and he spoke with an audible tremble.
Thankfully, his top-order colleagues batted well enough to give him time to compose himself and he walked off at stumps having hit a sublime 128 not out in a stumps score of 263 for three.
“I was a little bit emotional. I couldn’t even remember our team when they asked me about it,” said Root.
“I was a little bit all over the place but thankfully when I got out there I knew it was business as normal and I had a job to do. The guys have made it very special for me and I really appreciate it.
“Last night the guys actually put a little surprise together for me – some videos from some past players, some friends and family. And Ben, in particular, stood up and said some really kind words.
“It did (inspire me). I think that should stay between the two of us and the group but Ben’s a fine human being and it was really nice of him to go out of his way to say some very special things that I will hold dear forever.”
For all Root’s class at the crease, and this was his third big score in as many matches following his 228 and 186 against Sri Lanka last month, he is never quite able to turn off his captaincy radar.
And so he had barely finished reflecting on a “very, very special” performance before he was casting ahead to more runs, more partnerships and the possibility of batting India out of the game.
On England’s last visit to the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium they made 477 batting first and still lost by an innings after conceding 759 for seven declared.
“I’m delighted with how things have gone personally but I really hope that we can build on that tomorrow,” he said.
“Hopefully I can kick on personally but, most importantly, we can have a better day than today or match it and then we could be in a really strong position in this game.
“I think we’ve got to look to try and get as many as we can – 600, 700 if we can – really try and make the most of the first innings while it’s good. The footholes are starting to wear quite quickly so, if we can bat the whole of tomorrow and maybe into day three, then things could speed up quite quickly for us.
“It’s been a really impressive start but we’ve got to make it count and that’s going to be the challenge for this team.”
Dom Sibley will not get the chance to cash in on his hard work, with the Warwickshire opener batting defiantly all day for 87 before falling lbw in the final over.
After putting on 200 together, Root sympathised for his partner.
“I really did feel for him. He deserved a hundred but that’s what happens when you play against good players – they can take wickets later on in the day,” he said.
“I thought that was a fantastic innings. To come out with maybe a few question marks in his own mind about his game against spin, to go and put a performance early on in this series like that was really impressive.”
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