Emotional Root hits ton after star tribute

Rory Dollard
·3-min read

Joe Root has revealed how a star-studded pre-match tribute led by his teammate 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 the night before 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.

Fellow Yorkshireman Sir Geoffrey Boycott even tipped Root to replace Sachin Tendulkar at the top of the all-time Test run charts.

"If you can keep that love of the game, you can make 200 Test matches and be the all-time run-scorer in Test match cricket," Boycott told him.

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 3-263.

"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). 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."

Now Root will aim to bat India out of the game, remembering that on England's last visit to the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, they made 477 batting first and still lost by an innings after conceding 7-759 declared.

"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," he said.

After putting on 200 together, Root sympathised for partner Dom Sibley, who was dismissed on the last ball of the day for 87.

"I really did feel for him. He deserved a hundred but that's what happens when you play against good players," he said.

"I thought that was a fantastic innings."