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'Master Blaster' backs Joe Root for greatness

VIEWS: Sir Vivian Richards

WEST INDIES legend Sir Viv Richards has identified Joe Root as his favourite England batsman and likened his flinty spirit to that of the late Brian Close.

Root returned to the top of the International Cricket Council's Test batting rankings recently - following back-to-back half-centuries in the second Test defeat to Pakistan - and Richards sees much to admire in a player that reminds him of another Yorkshireman close to his heart.

Richards has long credited Brian Close with playing a significant role in his development into a player who remains one of the most revered figures in world cricket.

The ‘Master Blaster’ played under Close’s captaincy at Somerset in the early 70s before breaking into West Indies' team and then embarking on a career that earned him a reputation as the most feared batsman in arguably the most feared team ever to play the game.

While the 24-year-old Root can't boast such a career just yet, Richards believes he has the same characteristics taught to him by Close to make him a “phenomenal” player.

“I think Joe Root has done a magnificent job for a young man. I know he’s a Yorkshireman,” Richards told in an interview in his home country Antigua.

“As a Yorkshireman he’s got this tenacious attitude. I played under a Yorkshireman as captain - we lost him just recently, the late Brian Close. He was one of the hardest men that I’ve ever met, in whatever walk of life.”

TALENT: Young Lion Joe Root in action

“That nitty gritty type of stuff; (Geoff) Boycott, Sir Len Hutton they (Yorkshire) have got some guys who have been pretty potent over the years,” Richards added. “I guess Joe Root is from good stock.

“If he continues he is going to be phenomenal because he is still very much a young man and he looks rather gnashy, but he looks like he has what it takes for you to compete at the top and certainly he has proved that to date.”

Root played a central role in England’s Ashes triumph in the summer, setting the tone with a century on the opening day in Cardiff, and Richards was an interested onlooker at events from his home in the north of Antigua.

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