England captain Joe Root on Monday has been named as the ICC Men's Test Cricketer of the Year for 2021. Root beat stiff competition from New Zealand pacer Kyle Jamieson, Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne and India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to clinch the award.
"I am incredibly proud to have received the award for ICC men's Test player of the year. Very proud to be in the same breadth with many wonderful players around the world. It means a lot to get this award. I I would like to say a massive thank you to my family, team-mates and coaches for all the support we had throughout the year," said Root, who is the second England player to win the award after Sir Alastair Cook in 2011.
The magnitude of Root's sublime form in 2021 can be summed up by one simple stat -- he has become only the third player in history to aggregate over 1700 runs in Test cricket in a calendar year. Only Mohammad Yousuf and Sir Vivian Richards stand ahead of him. Though England won just four of 15 Tests in 2021, including losing the Ashes in Australia and series against India and New Zealand, Root stood tall and a class apart in his side's batting order.
Be it in Asia or conditions at home and against different bowling attacks, Root conquered all with some outstanding knocks. His double centuries in Galle against Sri Lanka, and against India in Chennai followed by an unbeaten 180 against the same opposition at the Lord's were some of the finest innings witnessed in the modern era, and will be spoken of highly for a long time.
Root chipped in with the ball as well, taking 14 wickets, including a five-for in the pink-ball Test in Ahmedabad. In his own words, Root picked out the Chennai Test against India as one of his most memorable performances in 2021.
"If there was one hundred that really sticks out, it would probably be the one against India in Chennai, the first Test of the series which was also my hundredth game. That is something which will live long in my memory. Hopefully a lot more to come in this year."
In that match, Root's 218 in the first Test of the four-match series against India in Chennai was a masterclass in batting. He swatted away a quality bowling attack, both pace and spin, with ease. This continued his form from the series in Sri Lanka, where he was again in sensational touch.
Batting for 377 deliveries, the Indian bowling had no answers to the Root conundrum, as he set up a 227-run victory for the visitors. This was also a sign of things to come for the remainder of the year, as the England skipper played knock after knock of the highest calibre, irrespective of what the opposition bowled.