COLUMN: Joe Root's BBC Sports Personality snub is a problem for whole of cricket

Joe Root, man of the series in England's Ashes win this summer
Joe Root, man of the series in England's Ashes win this summer

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist was revealed this week... with one glaring omission.

Sheffield-born Joe Root performed heroics for the England cricket team this year, starring in an Ashes-winning campaign the highlight of numerous other impressive exploits.

The problem is not in itself that Root hasn’t made it onto the list. Does he really care? The reward is not the most prestigious he would have won this year.

The issue is more why he, and cricket, have been ignored in the celebration of 2015 British sport when they’ve had such a part to play.

He racked up 723 ODI runs at an average of 42, 120 runs in three T20 internationals, and 828 other test runs, but let’s focus on the Ashes. It is, after all, the bedrock of England’s calendar and what a cricketer is most likely to receive a nomination based on.

Root scored two vital hundreds against Australia, setting up wins at Cardiff and Nottingham, while two half-centuries at Edgbaston were equally as valuable. They, and more, amounted to 460 runs in five matches.

England have now won four consecutive home Ashes series. In 2005 Andrew Flintoff set the nation alight with his explosive performances, Andrew Strauss starred as skipper in 2009, while Australia would have been flying the Ashes back home with them in 2013 without Ian Bell’s contribution.

All three were shortlisted, while the former, Flintoff, deservedly won the award.

This time around, Root scored 14 fewer runs than Strauss in 2009, in a considerably lower-scoring five tests. His performance was series-defining. So why is he not included?

Have we become blasé, expecting to send the Aussies packing every time they arrive on our shores? It seems unlikely – the visitors were the big favourites before the series began in the summer.

Root has also twice reached the top of the world rankings this year

Root has also twice reached the top of the world rankings this year

What appears more possible is that cricket simply isn’t on the nation’s consciousness enough.

The England team of 2010-13 have received much criticism, largely led by Root’s ex-teammate Kevin Pietersen, regarding the approach that they took to the game. Despite topping the test rankings for 12 months, their manner was insular and their on-field conduct often poor. They were hard to love.

Root has been the primary force in leading this new-look team out of that rut with his jovial spirit, but it’s possible that the nation’s radar still hasn’t readjusted to enjoying watching England win.

But despite that, the panel not deeming Root comparable with other British sporting heroes from 2015 is bizarre.

He has scored more runs than any other Englishman has ever managed in a calendar year across all formats – a record held by Pietersen for seven years.

Yes, England play far more cricket than they used to. But playing so often brings its own challenges – not least for Root, who has had recurring issues with his back all year.

On two occasions since August he has topped the ICC’s Player Rankings for Test Batsmen. He was judged, on two different occasions, to be the very best batsman in world cricket.

And perhaps most importantly, Root is a genuine character. He smiles his way through sparkling innings, he chortles at those bowlers who bother trying to faze him, and he loves playing, and winning, for England. Just watch him.

If all of that doesn’t fit the bill of ‘Sports Personality’, then what exactly does?