We were the fans of ‘the 281 generation’, as Rahul Bhattacharya called them. For genius, we had Sachin Tendulkar. For correctness and classicism, we had Rahul Dravid. For style, we had Laxman, and for madness, Sehwag. For occasional brilliance and eternal frustration, we had Ganguly. That they all retired en masse and Indian cricket hardly broke a sweat to replace them with capable young batsmen—Kohli, Pujara, Rahane, Vijay et al—means only one thing: India’s batting riches are nuts, as they have always been. Spoilt by this abundance, Indian fans are not easily enamored of batting performances. We know genius from freakishness like wheat from the chaff. Kevin Pietersen, for all his manic batting against the best of bowlers all his career, had to wait till Mumbai 2012 to earn the true respect of Indian fans. Even that didn’t do it for Alastair Cook who scored a century against India on debut. Now that he has 10,000
ugly runs to his name, it is no longer possible to brush him aside. Joe Root, on the other hand, was different. Sure, it was Nagpur. Sure, the defeated Indian bowlers were not the greatest of opponents. Still that 73 on debut had something that was apparent to all who used to seeing it in great batsmen.
“Glad the lad did well for himself,” remarked an English fan after Joe Root’s debut innings. He did not get the gravity of the situation.
“The ‘lad’ is a batsman,” I remember saying to him at that time, “And trust me, we know a proper batsman when we see one.”
Now, after 53 matches, after nearly 5000 runs at over 50 average, after his peers like Steve Smith of Australia, Kane Williamson of New Zealand, Virat Kohli of India became captains of their respective teams, Joseph Edward Root becomes the England captain. And promptly scores a century at Lord’s.
Behold a great era for batting!