Joe Root wants England’s cricketers to follow Gareth Southgate’s lead at this summer’s World Cup, winning the nation’s hearts and minds as they battle for the trophy.
Southgate visited Eoin Morgan’s squad when they gathered in Cardiff last month, addressing the players for more than an hour and presenting them with memento shirts.
As tournament hosts and world No 1, England will be hoping to go at least one better than the semi-final appearance the footballers managed in Moscow but Southgate’s inspirational brand of leadership proved a hit.
The country fell back in love with Southgate’s England last summer, and with men’s and women’s Ashes series following the World Cup, 2019 is cricket’s chance to take the spotlight.
“Gareth was great. He spent a good amount of time talking to the guys, not just individually but as a group, and I was really appreciative of him giving up his time to do that,” said Yorkshire’s Root.
“It was really insightful. A lot of it was based around being good people, creating opportunities to improve yourself and the people around you and there was a lot of crossover between that and how we want to go about things as a side.
“Cricket has a really big chance of grabbing the nation, just like it did in 2005. We want to make the sport as big as it can be in this country. It’s a massive chance to drive our game forward and become more popular, whether that’s men, women or young kids.
“What more could we ask for than a World Cup and Ashes, and with the side playing well, too, it’s shaping up nicely.”
Home advantage could prove a big boost to England’s hopes of landing a first-ever World Cup, but it is the chance to have down time with family rather than familiarity with conditions that means most to England Test captain Root.
“My son (Alfred) is not quite old enough to sledge me yet. I can go home and everything will be alright,” he said.
Gareth was great. He spent a good amount of time talking to the guys, not just individually but as a group, and I was really appreciative of him giving up his time to do that.England and Yorkshire’s Joe Root
“To be able to go home in between and enjoy the important things in life does make it that bit more special and I’m really looking forward to making the most of it.”