On Thursday evening, the England captain brought up his sixth Test century of the calendar year, scoring a masterful 121 in front of 16,721 spectators at Headingley, the same deck India was rolled for 78 the previous day.He joins Denis Compton and Michael Vaughan as the only England batters to score six Test centuries in a calendar year.Watch India‘s Tour of England Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >Root is riding a purple patch most cricketers only dream of. He’s seemingly impenetrable at the crease, and India’s world-class pace attack are out of ideas.He respected the good balls, which admittedly were few and far between in Leeds yesterday, and feasted on loose deliveries, particularly after the Duke ball lost its early shine.The back foot square drive Root played to bring up his half-century was arguably the best shot of his professional career.Even his running between the wickets was a class above his teammates, squeezing twos and threes out of shots that would have otherwise been singles and twos respectively.When the Indians became desperate for a breakthrough late in the afternoon session, captain Virat Kohli put five players on the leg side and told his pacemen to bowl short in search of a top edge.But the leg-side protection did not remotely faze Root, who continued blissfully playing the pull shot with ease.He reached triple figures with a perfectly-timed clip off the pads through mid-wicket. With his 23rd Test century, he surpasses South Africa’s AB de Villiers and the legendary Wally Hammond on the all-time list.Incredibly, Root has scored more runs in this Test series than Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja combined – essentially India’s entire middle order.“There’s so much you can learn as a young player from Joe Root,” England opener Haseeb Hameed told Sky Sports. “He’s of the highest class but for me, what stands out is the simplicity of his game.“He plays like he has so much time, he’s so diligent and also mentally, to turn up and perform in every innings shows how hungry he is.”The effortless nature in which the England skipper has accumulated runs this year is not dissimilar to Michael Clarke’s unforgettable 2012 or Michael Vaughan’s 2002, and the numbers suggest he’s destined for a record-breaking 12 months.Root has scored 1398 Test runs in 2021 at an average of 69.90, which currently sits 17th on the all-time list for most runs in a calendar year.Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousef set the record in 2006 with 1788. However, England has another five Tests to come this year, and Root therefore requires 78 runs per match to surpass that tallyNot only is Root rewriting the record books; he’s vanquishing a criticism which plagued most of his international career.His failure to convert fifties into big scores was a problem he has well and truly rectified.It seems an inevitability that for England to have any chance of reclaiming the Ashes this summer, Joe Root will need to score a bucket of runs.Just as Steve Smith did in 2019, a herculean effort will be required from the England captain to ensure Australian fans witness some competitive cricket.England has not won a Test match on Australian soil in over a decade, and they’ll arrive Down Under in November with a considerably weaker squad than their last Ashes tour.But if Root’s golden summer can extend into January, an Australian triumph could prove less straightforward than pundits anticipate.England is 8/423 at stumps on day two, with play to resume at 8pm AEST on Friday evening.
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