Joe Root wants Ashes clarity before committing to tour he is ‘desperate’ to play in

Joe Root wants Ashes clarity before committing to tour he is ‘desperate’ to play in

Joe Root says he is desperate to play in this winter’s Ashes but refused to guarantee he would lead his team to Australia given the uncertainties about the Covid restrictions that will be imposed on the touring squad.

Speaking after being named men’s player of the year by the Professional Cricketers’ Association, Root would not commit fully to leading the team in the ten-week tour, saying that no one could give any guarantees until they had been fully briefed by the England management this week.

“I feel it’s so hard to make a definite decision until you know,” the England Test captain, 30, said. “That’s why it’s so important that we get all the information. I’m desperate for part of an Ashes series. I always am. It’s that one series as an England player that you want to be involved in and that will never change. So of course, I am desperate to go. For the group, we’ve all got to find out what the position is and make a decision on the back of that.

“It is a little bit frustrating but it’s where we are at. It’s hard to know what will happen until we find out what conditions will be like. It’s very difficult at this stage to know where everything sits.”

There is increasing hope that England will be able to travel with a strong squad after Cricket Australia gave the ECB details of the conditions under which players will be expected to live — which are understood to be less restrictive than had been feared. However, there is uncertainty and anxiety about snap lockdowns or increased restrictions imposed by individual state governments over which Cricket Australia has no control.

It is understood that the players will be spoken to individually by the England team management over the next week and it is hoped that no more than a handful of players who have young families will decide they cannot commit to the tour or will ask not to be away for the whole five-Test series. Jos Buttler has indicated that he may not travel and it is understood about six others are considering their position. England will be without Jofra Archer because of an elbow injury, and it is increasingly unlikely that Ben Stokes will return to the side before next year after taking a break to protect his mental health.

The volatility of the situation was highlighted last night when a Sheffield Shield match due to be played between Queensland and Tasmania in Brisbane was cancelled at the 11th hour after the Tasmania team decided to fly back to Hobart because of four new Covid cases in the state.

Root was named PCA player of the year — an award that usually is given to a county player — after a rich run of form in the Test series against India, in which he scored three hundreds in as many Tests and moved to No 1 in the ICC Test batting rankings. Yorkshire’s Harry Brook was named young player of the year and Eve Jones the women’s player of the year — all voted for by their fellow professionals.

The England captain said that he would like the abandoned fifth Test against India to be played next summer as a series decider — with India 2-1 up after four matches — rather than as a standalone Test.

“It would be nice to finish the series, most importantly for the public that missed out, the people that paid to go and watch that game,” Root said. “It’d be great for them to get the opportunity to see that. I guess the challenge and the difficulty of it is making sure you don’t dilute the product.

“If it is going to overlap a series that’s currently in there, are you going to get the quality that a Test match deserves? Hopefully that balance can be found because it will be great to get the opportunity to finish the series off.”

● Joe Root was speaking after the 52nd cinch PCA awards, the biggest awards ceremony in English cricket.

Comments are closed.