Cricket | Viv Richards hails 'phenomenal' Root

London – West Indies great Viv Richards has hailed Joe Root’s return to the top of the ICC Test batting ranking by proclaiming that the England batsman can become “phenomenal”.

Root, 24, reclaimed the mantle of the world’s leading Test batsman earlier this week and Richards, one of the finest batsmen to have played the game, has backed him to enjoy a long and glittering career.

“I think Joe Root has done a magnificent job for a young man,” Richards told the website of the England and Wales Cricket Board, in comments published on Thursday.

“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.”

Richards, nicknamed the ‘Master Blaster’ during his playing days, also likened Root to the late former England captain Brian Close, who died last month at the age of 84.

Richards, now 63, played with Close after moving from Antigua to Somerset in the 1970s.

“I know he (Root) is a Yorkshireman,” Richards said. “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.

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

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