Sir Ian Botham hails emerging talent of England's Joe Root
Sir Ian Botham says England's Joe Root is one of the most talented young players he's ever seen.
Last Updated: 20/02/13 11:03am
Root, 22, struck an unbeaten 79 off 56 balls to lead the tourists to a series-levelling eight-wicket victory over New Zealand in the second one-day international, in Napier.
Further fifties from captain Alastair Cook (78) and Jonathan Trott (65) ensured that England reached their target of 270 after 47.4 overs.
But it was the performance of Root - who has now passed 30 in each of his six ODI innings since making his debut against India in Rajkot in January - that stood out for Botham on the batting front.
"He's an emerging talent," he said of Root, who scored a century for the England Lions last May before making his Test and T20 international debuts in December.
"I think he's one of the most talented young players that I've seen for a very long time and I think we are going to see a lot more of him."
Root received a life on 25 when Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum, keeping wicket, dropped a miscued hook and the Yorkshire batsman cashed in to finish unbeaten with seven fours and two sixes to his name.
The right-hander, who made his first-class debut in May 2010, is now averaging 74.50 in ODI cricket and Kent captain Rob Key told Sky Sports that Root has plenty more to deliver.
"He's wise beyond his years really, because he's only just broken into the Yorkshire side over the last couple of years and, actually, he's playing better and better for England - even more so than he has done for Yorkshire," he reflected.
"It was a fine knock. He had a little bit of luck at times - there was a shocking drop from Brendon McCullum when he lost the ball in the lights.
"But the way that Root can play - the way that he manoeuvres the ball around and then goes for the big shots, plus his placement, is exceptional. He just seems to know exactly what to do at exactly the right time."
Former England captain Alec Stewart added: "He's a special, special talent. We've got to be careful that we don't build him up too much but the way he has started we are going to have to talk about him!
"He's going to be around for a very long time. Graham Thorpe singled him out two years ago and said 'not only is he a special talent, with good ability, but his temperament and mental strength is spot on; that will stand him in good stead in his international career'.
"Thorpe pushed him and pushed him and the selectors have listened; they went to see him and now he's here and he's here to stay."
New Zealand struggled to post a target after James Anderson and Steven Finn reduced the home side to 19-2 off nine overs but a century stand off 53 balls between Ross Taylor (100) and Brendon McCullum (74) helped to drag the total up to 269 off 48.5 overs.
Anderson, England's leading wicket-taker of all time, went on to claim 5-34 off 9.5 overs - the second-best ODI figures of his career - and Botham, now second on the all-time list, said the Lancastrian dovetails perfectly with fellow seamer Finn.
"Jimmy Anderson has been excellent for some time now - we almost expect it from Jimmy," said Botham. "His figures of 5-34 are his second best ever so well done. It was a magnificent effort.
"I thought Steven Finn bowled exceptionally well off the shorter run and the two of them were the pick of the bowlers - and that's been the case for a while now.
"I think [the shorter run-up] is something that he'll have been working at for a while. He'll be doing it for a reason - it might have something to do with hitting the stumps with his leg. But I was very happy with it and his pace was good, it was consistent."
Finn and Anderson set the tone for New Zealand, conceding just 11 runs each off their opening six overs - early spells that Key described as crucial to the final outcome of the match.
"When you look at where this game was won, this is it. Alastair Cook wins the toss and has a bowl because he's not too sure what a good score is and Jimmy Anderson and Steven Finn deliver," he said.
"Jimmy Anderson didn't play in the Twenty20 - he has had a little break from one-day cricket - but this is one of his best bowling performances.
"On a pitch that did nothing, where there wasn't any swing, he's found a little bit in it before coming back at the death.
"I'd like to see him become one of the best death bowlers in the world. He's got skiddy pace and can get reverse swing - he could really be a banker at the death for England. That is where Jimmy Anderson's one-day career needs to start going."
Watch the third and final one-day international between New Zealand and England live on Sky Sports 1 HD this Saturday morning, from 12.30am.