Return of familiar Yorkshire surroundings perfect timing for Joe Root

JOE ROOT admits he can't wait to get back inside the Yorkshire dressing room next week '“ ahead of a busy summer of cricket as England test captain.

England and Yorkshire's Joe Root. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA
England and Yorkshire's Joe Root. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA

Root is scheduled to play two County Championship matches before the summer internationals begin against Pakistan next month.

He faces away fixtures against champions Essex and Surrey at Chelmsford and the Kia Oval respectively, the first of which starts a week on Friday.

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“They are two big games,” he said, going on to back the White Rose county for success in 2018.

“I always love coming back and playing for Yorkshire.

“I’ve got some really strong mates who I’ve played all the way through with, from being 15-years-old.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have Jonny Bairstow around all the time in the Test side. But, when I come back to Yorkshire, it’s like I’ve never been away. That’s a really nice environment to play in and be a part of.”

The 27-year-old Sheffield batsman went on: “I’m always following what’s going on.

Australia's Middlesbrough-born batsman, Matt Renshaw, far right. Picture: AP/Themba Hadebe

“We’ve got a good squad of players, and I’m fully confident we’ll have a good summer under Gary’s (Ballance) leadership. I think we’ll do pretty well.”

Root returns to county duty alongside Bairstow, and they will be hoping join a side on a winning roll.

Having beaten Nottinghamshire by 164 runs at Emerald Headingley on Monday, they travel to Taunton to face Somerset on Friday aiming to make it two wins from three matches this summer. After the Essex and Surrey fixtures, Root and Bairstow will face Pakistan in a two-Test Match series.

Although Yorkshire fans may not be seeing the pair wearing the White Rose on home soil, they will have the chance to see them in the second Test against Pakistan at Headingley from June 1-5.

Australia's Middlesbrough-born batsman, Matt Renshaw, far right. Picture: AP/Themba Hadebe

It starts a busy summer of internationals, with Australia and India also visiting, the latter for the second summer Test series.

And Root is confident of a return to form for England after defeats in Australia and New Zealand this winter.

“It’s been a tough winter, but we’re playing at home. In our own conditions, we’re a very good side,” he insisted.

“I expect us to go out there and perform really well.

“We saw a massive step forward in that last Test at Christchurch, and, hopefully that’s a sign for us to move from strength to strength and keep improving.”

Yorkshire head to Taunton hoping for a similar outcome to last June when they won a thriller by three runs.

It proved to be the crucial as they narrowly avoided relegation to Division Two come the end of September.

Somerset won their opening round match against Worcestershire inside three days on Sunday, with their overseas Australian batsman Matthew Renshaw scoring a debut century. Renshaw was born in Middlesbrough before his parents emigrated, and he is a childhood friend of Root’s with the pair’s parents having played together at Sheffield Collegiate.

Coach Andrew Gale added: “Taunton is always a tough place to go.

“I’ve looked at the footage of how they’ve won this week, and it doesn’t seem that they’re playing on sandpits any more. We look forward to going there.”

Gale did not include a frontline spinner in his squad for the first two Championship matches against Essex and Notts at Headingley.

But Azeem Rafiq and Karl Carver will come into contention, despite Gale’s comments regarding the conditions at Taunton.

Seamers Steve Patterson and Matthew Fisher remain unavailable as they recover from a broken finger and a torn side respectively.