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Yorkshire's Joe Root in thrall to school-mate Jessica Ennis
There must be something in the air at King Ecgbert’s School in Sheffield.
Not only did the sports department set Jessica Ennis on the right path to golden Olympic glory in the women’s heptathlon, but they also played a part in rise of one of English cricket’s star prospects in Joe Root.
While Ennis reached the pinnacle of her career last weekend, Root has still got a long way to go before he can be acclaimed at the top of his sport.
But the Yorkshire opener is definitely on the right track having cemented his place in the England Lions, currently playing Australia ‘A’ at Old Trafford, and gained a place on a preliminary 30-man list for the full team’s World Twenty20 defence in Sri Lanka next month.
Root, aged 23, was in his first year at secondary school when Ennis, 26, was in her last.
Aside from being professionals in the sporting world, they are also avid Sheffield United football fans and also have something else in common, as Root explained.
“The first time I came across her was when we had a School Sports Personality event,” he said.
“I was only 11, but I was nominated and so was Jessica. She won it, and I thought ‘how have I Iost to someone who does athletics?’ “I was a bit gutted about it. Then a couple of years later you saw her in the World Championships and Commonwealth Games – and now she’s won a gold medal in the Olympics.
“You look back and think ‘probably you can sit down and shut up Joe because it’s a hell of an achievement for her’.”
Root made only six in the Lions’ first innings against the Australians on Tuesday, but he is Yorkshire’s leading run-scorer in the LV= County Championship with 644 runs from 11 matches.
An impressive end to the season with both the Lions and Yorkshire could see him earn a place on England’s winter tours of India and New Zealand as back-up opener to Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook.
“I don’t really think about it too much,” he admitted. “I just try to stay in the moment.
“You can only face what’s right in front of you.
“If you’ve got someone steaming in and bowling at 90mph, you don’t want to be thinking about too much else.
“I just try to keep my mind fresh and stay nice and relaxed. I can only control what’s happening right now, and the only way for things to happen further down the line is if I do well.
“I just try to do well as often as possible.”
Yorkshire continue their unsuccessful Clydesdale Bank 40 campaign against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road tonight.
Tuesday’s defeat against Warwickshire at Edgbaston was their fourth from seven matches, leaving them second bottom of Group ‘C’ and all but mathematically out of the race to reach the semi-finals.