News   |    August 16th, 2021


My idea of paradise is to watch the England cricket team playing the West Indies in the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. The atmosphere is always amazing, and the crowd is so knowledgeable. They applaud good play from both sides but obviously if the West Indies win the raucous celebrations run well into the night. I have been lucky enough to go to Antigua 11 times in my lifetime and the people are so friendly. On many occasions buying an Antiguan family sitting next to you a round of drinks often leads to them reciprocating with lunch shared from their cool boxes.

Antigua loves its sporting heroes, and they are lauded and celebrated. If you go on a taxi ride anywhere on the beautiful island, the taxi drivers will always point out to you where their cricket heroes live.

In contrast, as we all know in this country, we have a track record of building up our sporting heroes only to knock them down.

One of those cricket heroes currently is the England captain Joe Root. Root made an unbeaten 180 not out on day three of the second Test against India at Lord’s last Saturday, his second hundred in the space of eight days. Indeed, it was his fifth Test century of 2021. Only two other players Denis Compton and Michael Vaughan have made six in a year for England. It might well have been a double century had Root not run out of batting partners. What I like about cricket is that the opposition players are the first to congratulate an opposition player on an outstanding performance.

Root still has many years left at the top and is only 30. Cricket is different to football in that so much international cricket is now played that Root and his fellow England players rarely play for their domestic counties.

Root is fast becoming the superstar of the team and appears to be so mentally strong to concentrate as he does for the amount of time he regularly spends at the crease. You would think after the past couple of years he could do with some time out, but his face betrays in every England match he plays how proud and motivated he is to lead his country.

In this latest test match, Root has reached several landmarks, he surpassed Graham Gooch’s tally of 8,900 Test runs to move into second place on the England all-time list behind Alastair Cook’s 12,472. He became the second youngest player to 9,000 Test runs, after Cook. He scored his 22nd Test century. Only Cook (33) and Kevin Pietersen (23) have more for England. He made his 11th score of 150, joint top with Cook among England batsmen. And he passed 150 for the fourth time in 2021.

His current form is so good that he has scored more centuries this year than entire countries. He has 5 x 100s compared to the 4 x 100s scored by the entire Indian team.

It is likely Root will go on to beat Cook’s remarkable record and when he does I hope I can get a ticket to see a true cricketing legend enter the history books as he deserves to do.

Photograph: Action Images via Reuters

Peter Varney - Chairman, Integral Sports Management.

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