When James Wharton strode to the crease for his first-team debut last night, you could have been forgiven for thinking that Yorkshire had snuck England’s current Test Match captain into their side.
Wharton, 19-years-old, was drafted into the Vikings team for the Vitality Blast Roses defeat at Emerald Headingley following the late omission of four senior players due to a Coronavirus related issue.
He only scored four off 10 balls in the middle order, but in that short time something became extremely obvious. He looks an absolute spitting image of Joe Root with bat in hand.
Even Root has noticed it in the past, explained White Rose coach Andrew Gale.
“When I first saw Wharts, it was a couple of years ago,” said Gale. “He came in and did 12th man for us, and Rooty was playing in the game.
“I made him pad up and bat in the indoor nets with Rooty, who is his idol and just bats exactly the same as him.
“Rooty said, ‘This lad just bats like me!’. He ended up giving him a bat, I think.
“He absolutely idolises Joe, and it’s not a bad role model to have.”
Wharton, a former Academy captain, is on a rookie contract with Yorkshire this summer – effectively the bridge between the Academy and a full-time professional.
A prolific run-scorer through the age-group sides, he scored an impressive 162 in only his third innings for the second-team in late 2018 whilst opening the batting in a three-day game against Leicestershire.
A product of Scholes Cricket Club who first wore the White Rose as an Under 14 in 2014, Wharton hails from Gale’s neck of the woods – Huddersfield.
But in keeping with the similarities to Root, Gale chuckled: “I’m sure he’s got a twang of Sheffield in his accent as well.”