Here's why Joe Root's 2017 could be as significant as Andy Murray's 2016

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Andy Murray was the hero we all needed in 2016, ending the year as a knight and winning Sports Personality of the Year - and we reckon 2017 could do similar things for Joe Root.

Murray added a Wimbledon title, an Olympic gold and the world number one ranking spot to his cabinet in 2016 - here's why Root could achieve similar success this year.

Captaincy

England batsmen Alastair Cook and Joe Root - (Nick Potts/PA)
(Nick Potts/PA)

With Alastair Cook rumoured to be stepping down as captain of England, Joe Root is just about the only name in the frame to replace him.

Root might just be 26 years old, but already has four years' experience under his belt. The captaincy does strange things to batting form. Michael Vaughan's for example suffered, but Steve Smith has relished the responsibility with Australia.

Root managed just three Test tons for England in 2016 and would surely like to improve upon his conversion rate of fifties to hundreds, with 27 half centuries to his name and 11 tons. Could the captain's proverbial armband help Root make the step up?

Becoming a father

England batsman Joe Root - (Martin Rickett/PA)
(Martin Rickett/PA)

On February 7 2016, Andy Murray became a father for the first time - on January 7 2017, Root also welcomed a little one into the world.

Speculation suggested that with the added responsibility of a child, Murray flourished in the tennis arena. Whether true or not, the Scotsman's form certainly hit a purple patch, reaching his first French Open final in June.

Might Root experience a similar upturn in form? With some big competitions taking place this year, it would certainly be timely.

Home ICC Champions Trophy

England batsman Joe Root - (Adam Davy/PA)
(Adam Davy/PA)

Murray took 2016 by the scruff of the neck by winning some of the biggest competitions around, including the ATP World Tour Finals at the end of the season.

Joe Root is one of England's best batsmen across all formats, including One Day Internationals, so England hosting the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in June should be a huge opportunity for him to flourish on home soil.

Legends are made in the trophy cabinet as well as out in the middle, and helping England towards some rare cricketing silverware would certainly add value to Root's stock.

The Ashes

Australia's Mitchell Johnson and England's Joe Root - (Anthony Devlin/PA)
(Anthony Devlin/PA)

The big one for Root, as potential captain of the Test side, will be the return of the Ashes after a two-and-a-half year wait, with Australia the venue.

England hold the little urn at present, but the last time they toured Australia they were hammered 5-0, with Root experiencing some of the worst batting form of his career, making just 192 runs in eight innings. He was dropped for the final Test.

Cook's magical 2010/11 Ashes tour will ensure the Essex man is fondly remembered when he eventually retires. Joe Root could go some way to creating his own legacy by winning big with England in Oz.

Rivalry with Steven Smith

Australia batsman Steven Smith - (Nick Potts/PA)
(Nick Potts/PA)

All great athletes need rivals driving them on to bigger and better things. Murray has Novak Djokovic, and Root has Australian batsman and Test captain, Steven Smith.

At 27 years old, Smith is batting at a sensational average of 60.15 in Tests, while the 26-year-old Root averages a slightly less impressive (but still impressive) 52.80.

Root has the edge in ODIs and iT20s however, with 45.71 and 37.50 to Smith's 42.98 and 21.55 respectively. The pair could clash at the ICC Champions Trophy, and will surely go head to head during the Ashes starting in November, which could be decided by the form of either one of them.