HAVE YOUR SAY: Breakthrough season capped by perfect ending for talented Root

Joe Root nearly crashed the car when he found out he had been selected for England.

The 21-year-old Yorkshire batsman is someone who thrives on being in control, whether that is at the crease or behind the wheel.

But the bolt from the blue that was a call from national selector Geoff Miller last month saw the cool nature of the mild-mannered young man go out of the window.

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“I was bouncing around in my car for about five minutes,” recalls the Sheffield-born, right-handed batsman.

“I was delighted. I was actually on the middle of the M1 on my way down to a cricket dinner when I got the call.”

A reaction that radiates the innocence of youth is understandable given the stature of the man he is earmarked to replace in England’s batting line-up.

Andrew Strauss is a monster of English cricket, a double Ashes-winning captain who helped transform the national side into the best in the world.

His are massive shoes to fill.

Contrast that with Root, who has only played 36 first-class games, and the difference is stark. Yet Root has enjoyed a breakthrough season and is the prospect to prosper from a dearth of seasoned top-order batting talent.

He helped Yorkshire win promotion to Division One of the County Championship and to the final of the domestic Twenty20 competition, scoring 738 runs at 43.41 along the way and collecting a host of national awards to boot.

“It’s all been a bit unexpected,” he admitted earlier this week, before flying out to South Africa for the latest chapter of his remarkable rise, representing Yorkshire in the Twenty20 Champions League.

“I’ve grown up watching England players on telly from a young age. That’s who you model your game on, the guys playing for England, that’s the dream as a kid coming through. You dream of representing your country.

“To be in the squad is fantastic and I’ll be doing everything I can to get in that side.”

Root would be wise not to burden himself with huge expectations as the man to fill Strauss’s boots for the next decade. Instead, taking the experience each day as it comes is his preferred course of action.

There is a determination also not to be over-awed as he walks into Alastair Cook’s dressing room for the first time.

“I won’t be intimidated,” he says. “I’ve spent my whole life watching these guys on television. It’s a great opportunity to learn from them and develop as a player.”

Root sees his elevation to the England ranks for the three-test tour of India as a big nod of thanks to his family.

“They are thrilled for me,” he adds. “My grandad especially. He has been my taxi from the age of 10, for all my junior games all the way up to Under-17s when I could drive a car.”

It is his extended family at Yorkshire to whom he owes an equal amount of gratitude. That debt is reciprocated in a love and admiration for his county that runs deep.

When he reflects on his rapid rise, or talks of his own aspirations, collective goals invariably outweigh personal ambitions.

“I’ve been really proud of the year I’ve had but more importantly the year the club has had,” he says. “Especially after the season we’d had (2011), there was a lot of expectation on our shoulders.

“It’s been great personally, but my main goals this season were to win promotion, to try and win the Twenty20 and to try and win the CB40 League.

“To have done as well as we did in Twenty20, going to finals day which was fantastic, is something I’m very proud to have been part of. You’re in the dressing room all year, you see how hard everybody works, and to get something from it is fantastic.

“If you set good team goals then your personal goals will follow and I’ve been lucky enough for that to be the case this year. I’ll keep doing that throughout my career and I’ll take that mentality to India with me and hopefully the guys can come back with a good result.

“I want to enjoy and make the most of the England experience, but first and foremost I want us to win the series, whether that’s with me as 12th man carrying the drinks or out there playing, I want to make sure I’m part of a winning squad.”

Root will analyse the strengths and weaknesses of India’s attack in due course. Before then, he is relishing the latest chapter in his and Yorkshire’s rewarding 2012 odyssey – the Champions League.

“If we play to the ability we’ve got in that dressing room then we’ll go far in this competition, if not all the way,” says Root, confidently of a tournament that requires Yorkshire to win both qualifying games in Johannesburg next week.

“It’s the biggest stage in domestic cricket. Hopefully we can do each other and the club proud.

“That’s what I’m concentrating on right now. Taking things a day at a time is my priority.”

Yorkshire play Uva Next of Sri Lanka on October 9 and Trinidad and Tobago the following day.

The county yesterday completed the signing of former England seam bowler Liam Plunkett on a three-year deal from Durham.

Director of cricket Martyn Moxon said: “Liam is a wholehearted cricketer with considerable talent. He brings experience and quality.”

Plunkett, 27, said: “The club has had a strong 2012 and I believe adding myself and Jack Brooks to the current squad will give us the best bowling attack in the country.”