Joe Root has been backed to put his Ashes heartache behind him by the leading figures in Yorkshire cricket – and been told he will return to his rightful place at the top of the county’s batting order.
Root endured a sobering winter with England in Australia, with his constant shuffling up and down the order symptomatic of the muddled thinking by the tourists.
There are concerns that it could have a lasting effect on the confidence of a batsman, who only turned 23 six weeks ago.
But Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale was emphatic yesterday in his support of the Sheffield-born batsman.
“Joe Root has had success playing for Yorkshire since he was 13-years-old opening the batting,” insisted Gale, who will decide the line-up with first-team coach Jason Gillespie.
“He’s an opening batsman and I don’t think he’s been given a fair crack of the whip by England in that position. That’s where he bats for me, and that’s where he should be batting for England.
“We saw how he came back for us last year and got us off to a fantastic start, he won that game at Durham single-handedly chasing down a big total. That kick-started our season.”
And Root was given a further confidence boost by Yorkshire’s director of professional cricket Martyn Moxon, who reiterated Gale’s belief that the England man will not have been affected by the uncertainty of the winter.
“It’s up to Galey and Jason (Gillespie) but I would expect Rooty would be opening our innings,” said Moxon.
“Root’s strength is assessing what’s happened and learning from it and building on it.
“That’s what he’ll do. I would expect him to be a better player for the experience, not a worse one.”
The failure of England in Australia and the anticipated upheaval of playing staff is expected to create an intense battle for places on the resumption of county cricket in mid-April.
To that end, Yorkshire are confident they will have Root and their contingent of England players available for the start of the season on April 13.
The final of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh is on April 6 and barring an ECB directive to rest their international players, Root, Tim Bresnan, Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow could feasibly play five Championship matches (from Somerset Apr 13-16 to Warwickshire, May 11-14) before they are called back to England duty for the summer series with Sri Lanka.
“It’s great to have our guys back,” said Gale, who also expects his England contingent to be lining up for the opening Twenty20 match against Northamptonshire Steelbacks on Friday, May 16.
“Going into that first Test at the start of June there’s going to be a lot of places up for grabs and those guys have got to come back with a point to prove that they want the shirt for England. So they’re going to be giving it their all.
“And the addition of those four guys coming back is only going to leave us with a stronger side.
“The County Championship is going to be better for the amount of internationals in the field at the start of the season.
“Every single player, even the lads who have not been involved over the last few years, might be thinking if I can get a few hundreds in the early season then there will be one or two players who have not been considered in the past that might get the call-up.
“There will be a lot of people coming back to county cricket determined to do well.
“You’ve got Eoin Morgan turning down the IPL and we’ve got his team Middlesex third game of the season. You want to be testing yourself against the best players.”
On the confidence levels of Yorkshire’s England contingent, Gale added: “Whatever happened this winter they’re all young enough to come back and they’ll be better for the experience.
“They are strong blokes. They’re not the sort of guys who will go into their shells, they’re the type who will come back, stick their chests out and get on with the job.”
Moxon added: “I don’t think we’ll have to lift spirits too much.
“Bres’ is a very phlegmatic character, he’s not going to be affected by the winter and Rooty’s the same.
“He could well go and have a very good tour to the West Indies and Twenty20 World Cup, so he could be back on a high.”
Positivity radiates from Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
The announcement yesterday of the signing of Australia’s explosive limited-overs batsman Aaron Finch generated such interest that the county had to open their ticket office a day earlier than planned to start selling tickets for the summer’s Twenty20 Blast competition.
Finch’s signing and the anticipated return of the England contingent has seen expectation levels at Yorkshire rise dramatically, despite the season not starting for another two months. And Moxon has already had to begin playing down his county’s chances.
“I’m not going to say whether we’re favourites or not, what I will say is we’ve got a good squad of players who hopefully will be challenging for the title,” he said.