JOE ROOT is relishing the chance of being part of a golden era for Yorkshire cricket after committing his future to the White Rose county.
The England star has put pen to paper on a new two-year deal that will keep him at Headingley until the end of 2016.
The 23-year-old batsman is one of 10 players to sign new deals, with England hopeful Adil Rashid and wicketkeeper Andrew Hodd also penning two-year extensions.
Pace bowlers Moin Ashraf and James Wainman have penned one-year extensions, while there are first pro contracts for pace men Matthew Fisher and Josh Shaw plus left-arm spinner Karl Carver, each of whom have won two-year deals.
Opening batsman Elliot Callis and all-rounder Ryan Gibson have agreed one-year senior Academy player contracts.
Root, who lifted the County Championship trophy last summer in the absence of suspended captain Andrew Gale, sent this reaction from Sri Lanka, where he is the club’s sole representative in the one-day international series.
“I am delighted to be committing my long-term future to Yorkshire,” said Root.
“Even though I haven’t played many games for the club over the past couple of years due to England commitments, it is an honour every time I return to play.
“The club – under the guidance of (coaches) Martyn Moxon and Jason Gillespie – are making tremendous progress, and to play a small part in the club’s Championship success last season was a moment I’ll cherish for a long time. The staff have a tremendous ethos, which will stand the club in good stead for the coming years.
“I am looking forward to playing my part in what should be a very exciting era for Yorkshire cricket.”
Root’s renewed commitment – along with that of his club-mates – is a big boost ahead of today’s announcement by the England and Wales Cricket Board of next summer’s county fixtures (10.30am).
Director of cricket Moxon said: “It is absolutely fantastic that Joe has re-signed,
“He was brilliant at the end of last season, along with Gary Ballance, and they both came back with great enthusiasm and pride after a summer with England to help us win the Championship title.
“Joe is a great role model for our young lads and the other members of our squad, and it’s great to have him so committed,” he said.
“He’s going from strength to strength, and to bounce back the way he did after a tricky winter with England in Australia shows the measure of the man, his character and talent.”
Rashid’s is the other headline name from the new contract list, the batsman/leg-spinner a strong contender for England’s tour of West Indies next spring.
The 26-year-old has not played international cricket since 2009.
“In the last couple of years we’ve seen a growing maturity from Rash,” said Moxon.
“Last year he bowled very well and was a big factor in us winning the Championship, and he often knocked the tail over, which is sometimes difficult.
“In addition, he played some important innings with the bat and his all-round contribution was excellent.
“I think he’s matured as a person in the last couple of years and he seems to be at peace with himself.”
Hodd is Yorkshire’s second-choice wicketkeeper behind Jonny Bairstow and seen by Moxon as a key squad member.
The 30-year-old could gain more chances next year if openers Adam Lyth and/or Alex Lees are away with England, with Hodd among those earmarked as a possible replacement at the top of the order.
Callis, 20, and Jonathan Tattersall, 19, are also vying for an opener’s birth.
“With Lyth and Lees knocking on England’s door, the opening position is going to be interesting next year,” said Moxon.
“We’ve got the potential options of Hodd, Tattersall and Callis, and that’s why this winter and the various training and preparation is going to be important in case there’s an opportunity at the top of the order.
“Hodd did the job quite a bit in the second team last year, while Tattersall and Callis are openers anyway.
“Depending on England selections, there could be a few young lads pushing for first-team places next year.”
Among them will be 22-year-old Ashraf, who has lately suffered injury problems.
Now back to fitness and about to fly to Adelaide for a winter of Grade cricket, Yorkshire are optimistic his star will rise again.
“Moin’s had a couple of disappointing seasons and missed a lot of cricket through various injuries, niggles and things,” said Moxon.
“He needs regular bowling to get his rhythm and confidence back, and hopefully after a good winter in Australia he’ll come back in a good place ready for next season.
“We need a strong bowling squad to compete on all fronts, and we generally haven’t bowled well at the death in one-day cricket for the past couple of years.
“That’s something Moin did really well in 2012 when he played a major role in the T20 Cup, but we know he’s also a capable four-day bowler.”