Joe Root Has played 319 times for England across all formats, captained his country 64 times, and scored 18,048 runs in an international career of just over a decade.
But since he arrived in India in late March, he has found himself in excess of requirements. Root spent the first ten matches of IPL 2023 on the bench for Rajasthan Royals, a pink towel wrapped around his neck as he fulfilled his duties as the world’s fittest drinks waiter.
It came as no surprise. Only four foreign players are allowed in each XI. Jos Buttler and Shimron Hetmyer are automatic starters, and the Royals opted to use two of their other spots on Jason Holder, Adam Zampa and Trent Boult. Yet it is still shocking to see one of the premier batsmen of his generation as the 12th man.
In the past week, Root has been tasked with consolidating a hit-and-miss middle order – but even so, his opportunities have been limited. In his first Two Play, he bowled two tight overs and did not face a ball as the Royals’ top-order dominated; In his thirdHe scored 10 runs in 15 balls from No.4 as he fell Third lowest total in IPL history,
Back home, the question being asked more than any other is whether Root should be in India or not. The first Ashes Test is a month away, and he hasn’t played a red-ball game since February. Root was sold for his base price – ₹1 crore (about US$121,600) – so the financial aspect of his involvement is almost incidental.
When Root was asked in Jaipur how to respond to suggestions about playing county cricket, Root said, “It’s quite simple really.” “I’ll start by saying that I love playing for Yorkshire, and I love the County Championship. It’s the bedrock of our game in the UK and it’s very influential in developing players.
“But where I am within my game and my development, having this kind of experience for the first time at age 32, I think is going to benefit me more in the long run than playing four championship games where I also can’t learn much about myself.Look at the fixtures: one of them has already rained out, one was a rain-affected game and one ended in a draw.
“Is it really going to prepare me for the Ashes series? Or, trying to learn as much as I can by talking to all these players, in these conditions, having these experiences in India six months before the World Cup am – mainly about T20 cricket, but good, strong conversations about the game in general – are they going to make me a better player?
“And I think I’ll come back ready and excited to dive back into Test cricket and it’s going to be an amazing summer of Ashes cricket. It wasn’t something I just did – I thought that was a real plus Its in favor, and if I treat the experience right I’ll come back in a really good place, more knowledgeable and in a better position.
It was only a year ago that similar question Jonny Bairstow was being asked, as he warmed up for the first Test of 2022 in England by playing for the Punjab Kings. Three months later he became the first batsman in England’s Test history. four centuries in six matches,
“If you want, you can look at anything and say, ‘Well, if you didn’t do that, you could have done better here,'” Root said. “It doesn’t matter. It’s about how you go ahead and how you perform when the big matches come up. You should be judged on that basis,” he added.
“Just look at the schedule in general now. There’s so much cricket all the time. Maybe it’s like [these two months] Some time is used as leisure, and I don’t play a huge amount of cricket. Most games are played upstairs anyway… it was really a no brainer, in that regard.
Root has tried to be a “sponge” in India, “trying to absorb a lot of different information and then filter it into your game”. He has spoken in detail to his head coach Kumar Sangakkara. After the Royals’ opening match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he spent “an hour or so” with Brian Lara. “It’s really hard not to come away from it as a better player,” he said.
It has provided him with a rare opportunity to immerse himself in a format he has barely played in his four years recent t20 internationalOn the eve of 2019 World Cup. In that time, he has played a dozen games in the Vitality Blast, four in a hundred and five in ILT20s – a thin porridge compared to the feast of opportunities enjoyed by most of his England team-mates.
Root said, “For me, when it comes to T20, I just want to play.” “I just want to be around it. I want to play it. I love the format: I think it’s great and if there are opportunities that aren’t hindering international cricket – first and foremost it’s always Will be the most important thing to me – so of course, I’ll try to have them.
“I’ve benefited a huge amount from being around T20 again. I’m trying to manage my game better in the format – trying to be a little less erratic, and a little more thoughtful.” How I want to go on and build.” One shift. You may not be as formulaic in this, but you are still making sure that you are being calculated in what you are doing.
“When you’re not playing, it can be easy enough to whine and moan and feel a little sorry for yourself. But at the end of the day, you’ve got eight weeks here to try and improve yourself. Got a chance.” Play. It would be foolish not to use that opportunity and make use of the people and resources around you.
Root has enjoyed the opportunity to play alongside some international opponents, notably Yuzvendra Chahal. Pair dance moves in a team event went viral early in the season, “I learned very quickly that everything you do here gets caught on camera,” he said with a wry smile. “You have to be very careful.”
He also enjoys two young teammates: Dhruv Jurel, the 22-year-old keeper-batsman and Yashasvi Jaiswal, the successful IPL 2023 batsman. naivety to the game,” he said. “It’s so refreshing. It’s something you almost want to bring back in your game when you’ve played a lot and you’re a little battle-hardened and you see the world through a different lens. It’s important to have those young people if they want to bounce ideas off you.”
Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum seem to have tried to infuse some spark into the England Test side over the past 12 months. “He has created a great environment for the group to operate in,” Root said. “And I don’t mean that it’s relaxed and we’re all having a good time.
“I mean the conversations people are having now, I think, are more relevant than the success we’re having, and people going out there and playing really smart cricket because of the way we’re playing. Talking about another.
“It’s a really exciting space. When you look at our batting group, the majority are in their mid-twenties – or even early twenties – and their Test careers are just ahead of them. Have an exciting time. The team. It makes me smile thinking about what’s coming around the corner.
The next Ashes series for Root is the first Ashes series since 2015 without him captaining England. final three seriesThat never happened during the Covid-affected tour in 2021-22, and is looking forward to an opportunity to “settle down and play” this summer.
“I look back  One we had in the UK and it didn’t feel like it really worked for us,” he said. Although we drew the series, Jofra [Archer] Wasn’t available for the first game. woody [Mark Wood] Was out for the series. all key [Anderson] bowled four overs. we were half an hour away from potentially winning at lords20 minutes away from saving the game at Old Trafford,
“But that’s the exciting part of the Ashes series: how close they seem to be getting, especially in the UK, and how it could attract some of the best Test cricket out of the two teams. Everyone is building nicely towards it ” When it comes to these series this is one place we probably haven’t been to for a while.
“We’re acutely aware that Australia are a very good team – you can’t get to the final of the World Test Championship without playing well in all conditions. It’s got to make great cricket, and you want to play in it. You want to play. ” In those great Test matches, and to be there at the end, not out, winning games for my teammates.”
Root had an unusual record against Australia in his three series as captain, scoring a dozen fifties in 15 Tests, converting none of them into centuries. He comes from behind in this summer’s series four centuries and four half-centuries Since returning up the ranks, and with no clarity on how he fits into an ultra-aggressive batting line-up.
Root spoke of trying out in New Zealand earlier this year “Find out what my role is in this team” before scoring 248 once in the second Test, in Wellington, He believed that his comments were “a little misunderstood” but had clearly gained confidence from his performance in that game.
“I think I’ve always had a pretty good sense of how I want to play,” he said. “How I want to do it with the guys at the other end is that sometimes I probably got a little carried away. After that first Test in New Zealand, I worked it out; in the second innings, the only guy who was going to get me out It was I myself, and I did it.
“Then I played well again in the second Test. Of course, when you go into a new summer or a new game, it doesn’t guarantee you anything, but obviously it’s good how you’re going, It’s an inner feeling of understanding.” to operate, and to believe within your own potential and where you sit within the group.”
The morning after our interview, Root caught up harry brook Over coffee before Royals’ game against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Jaipur. Root made his IPL debut that night; Brook was relegated to the bench after a series of low scores following his unbeaten century against Kolkata Knight Riders,
“I know him very well from watching him grow up in Yorkshire,” Root said, “and I think this experience will be really good for him.” Obviously he’s had an incredible year. Within a short period of time, he had had enough. To take in and assimilate. He probably had five years of experience in 12 months.
“But he’s got the right mindset and mindset to be able to handle it. While he may not come across as the most talkative person you’ll talk to, he’s a very astute person when it comes to cricket. He’s got a lot of He’s a smart guy. Good understanding of the game, especially for a player his age.”
Root’s advice to Brooke? “Ultimately, he just has to settle down and play the game. The ball is the same size, the same weight, and that’s the only thing you face. If you can get into that mindset of playing the ball — not the opportunity, No man – then you’ll be all right.”
It is the same principle that will underpin Root’s own innings from Indian spring to Ashes summer.