England v India: Joe Root's stunning year and the records he could break

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport at Emerald Headingley

Joe Root is in the sort of form that would make Midas look out of touch.

The England captain's sublime 121 off 165 balls on the second day of the third Test against India at Emerald Headingley was his third century of the series and sixth of the year.

Root is now hunting all manner of records: most Test centuries by an England batsman in a year; most Test runs by an England batsman in a year; most Test runs by anyone in a year.

Not only that, but the ease with which he is racking up the runs makes you wonder if England have ever had it so good…

'The best in the world right now'

Opener Haseeb Hameed, who made 68, described Root as "probably the best player in the world right now".

"He is unbelievable," Hameed told BBC Sport. "The last 12 months he has taken his game to a different level.

"Everybody in the dressing room looks up to him and he keeps delivering."

Dawid Malan, who scored 70 and added 139 with Root for the fourth wicket, said: "He's phenomenal. He just scores runs all the time.

"He moves his feet so well. He hits the ball so much later than most people.

"If you look at all the greats, as soon as you miss your line and length, they hurt you, and Joe is one of those.

"It's great to have the best seat in the house when he plays as well as he does there."

Ex-England captain and Root's former team-mate Alastair Cook savoured a "brilliant, brilliant hundred".

He told BBC Test Match Special: "It was a pleasure to watch and it was a pleasure to be here to see a man at the top of his game - probably as well as you can play in England."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan also made six Test centuries in 2002, a record he and Root share with Denis Compton in 1947.

"There can't be that many that have played as well as this consistently for so long in an England jersey," Vaughan told TMS.

"You knew from the time Joe Root got to about six that he would get to 100."

Graphic showing Joe Root's record in 2021: 11 Tests, 1,398 runs, average 69.90, highest score 228, four centuries, two double centuries

The year of the Root

Root's 1,398 runs put him fourth on the list of runs scored by an England batsman in a calendar year. Of the three players ahead of him, one is Root himself.

Jonny Bairstow piled up 1,470 in 2016, the same year Root himself made 1,477. At the head of the list is another player from Yorkshire, Vaughan, whose Ashes heroics helped him to 1,481 in 2002.

Root, though, could play another five Tests this year, so it seems certain he will end 2021 at the head of the list.

His six hundreds ties an England record shared by Vaughan and Compton, in 1947, and he has made centuries in three consecutive Tests not once but twice this year.

What makes Root's run-scoring all the more remarkable is the performance of his team-mates.

England's second-highest run-scorer in 2021 - Rory Burns with 424external-link - has almost 1,000 runs fewer than Root.

In fact, Root has scored more runs in two-and-a-half Tests of this India series alone - 507 - than any other England batsman has managed all year.

What other records could Root break?

With two more Tests against India and three of the five in Australia to come in 2021, Root could have his eye on the all-time record in a calendar year.

In 2002 Pakistan's Mohammad Yousuf amassed an incredible 1,788 runsexternal-link from only 19 innings - two fewer than Root has played already - at an average of 99.33.

Yousuf also holds the record for Test centuries in a calendar year with nine. One more would take Root level with West Indies' Viv Richards, Aravinda da Silva of Sri Lanka, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting and India legend Sachin Tendulkar.

Speaking of Tendulkar, Root may also have an outside chance of breaking the India legend's record for most Test runs by a batsman.

Root is some way short of Tendulkar's mammoth tally of 15,921, but he is only 30 and has plenty of time to add to his 108 Test caps. Tendulkar retired at 40 having played 200 Tests.

Graphic showing Joe Root and Sachin Tendulkar's records after 108 Tests: Root 9,221 runs, average 50.38, 23 centuries; Tendulkar 8,882 runs, average 56.21, 31 centuries

Root is also primed to surpass Alastair Cook's all-time England record of 12,472 Test runs. Once he does that, only India's Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis of South Africa and Ponting will stand between him and Tendulkar.

Is there anything Root can't do?

Such has been Root's mastery with the bat this summer that we asked the BBC Sport readers if there was anything else that he could turn his hand to...

David in Cramlington: Joe Root could be the voice of the speaking clock as his timing is immaculate.

John Rodway: All summer Joe Root has been batting out of this world. He would be an excellent astronaut.

Sam: Joe Root could win Love Island by himself.

Ben Askins: Joe Root would bring a whole new meaning to Batman.

Mark Dorey: I think Joe Root could do it on a cold wet windy Tuesday night in Stoke.

Charles: Wonder if he can take penalties as well.

Derrick in Fort William: Joe Root could make Meat Loaf do that.

Archie in Battersea: I don't want to get ahead of myself but surely Root is an absolute guarantee for winning SPOTY this year. He'll end the year top of the Test batting rankings, a 3-1 series win against India and a 5-0 series win down under.

On any other day, you'd say Archie was getting carried away.

But with Root in form like this, maybe you can't quite rule it out...

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