The sense of optimism was palpable as the players lined-up to the backdrop of the Emerald Stand, which has transformed the aspect of Headingley cricket ground. “The ground looks great,” said Yorkshire batsman Joe Root, the England Test captain.
“I’ve not seen the stand (development) for a long time now; it looks very different to the last time I was here.”
Ahead of a huge summer for English cricket, featuring the World Cup and the Ashes, Root has been made available for the first two County Championship games, starting with Friday’s opener at Notts.
“It’s great to get the opportunity to come and play for Yorkshire,” he said.
“You look at the talent and ability in the dressing room, and it’s all there. We’ve got a lot of fine players in every department, and it’s just about making sure that we fulfil that potential. I’m very hopeful this year and looking forward first to getting the chance to play, and then watching the guys go out and hopefully continue what will be a good start.”
Fresh from a short break after the winter, Root is relishing the summer ahead. “You don’t get chances like this very often,” he said.
“You’ve got to try and embrace it and enjoy every moment, and hopefully we’ll have something special to look back on.”
In a quick five-minute window between his team photo commitments and a net session, Root was also asked about the England hopes of his young Yorkshire team-mate Harry Brook – “There’s a lot of hard work to go, but there’s everything there in his game” – and the club’s new South African quick bowler Duanne Olivier, “a great signing”.
Of the controversial ‘Mankading’ incident involving his England team-mate Jos Buttler and Ravi Ashwin in the IPL, Root said that he “wasn’t too impressed personally” and “it’s not something I’d like to be involved in”, adding that there needs to be clarity on the issue going into the summer’s World Cup.