JOE ROOT is confident England can emerge strongly from their winter of discontent and has stressed his desire to help lead their revival.
English cricket is at its lowest ebb for years after the national team were thumped 12-1 in Australia across all three formats, including a humiliating 5-0 Ashes defeat.
England recovered to beat the West Indies 2-1 in a one-day series but lost 2-1 to the same opponents in a Twenty20 rubber before making no impression at the World Twenty20.
Throw in the departures of star batsman Kevin Pietersen, team director Andy Flower, off-spinner Graeme Swann and the burnout suffered by Jonathan Trott, and it is safe to say that just about everything that could have gone wrong for England did go wrong.
Yorkshire batsman Root – one of a handful of players to whom England will now look to rebuild their fortunes – believes the team will only benefit from their experiences and predicted they would hit back hard in this summer’s Tests, ODIs and T20s against Sri Lanka and India.
“It was a tough winter,” admitted Root.
“As a team, it caught everyone off guard a little bit really, but I think the pleasing thing was going to the West Indies, bouncing back and winning the one-day series there.
“What happened in Australia was just part and parcel of sport; you can’t perform consistently at the top all the time, and it’s a fresh start now for this summer and we’ve got to make sure we bounce back hard early on and make a statement as a team.
“The way I look at it, there’s a few more young players now coming through who’ve got a great opportunity to become more senior within the squad.”
Root, 23, is one of those players and he reflected that he has already experienced much for a youngster.
Since making his Test debut against India at Nagpur in December, 2012, Root has had more ups-and-downs than most players encounter throughout a career.
“The good thing for me is that, in more or less a year’s cricket, I’ve pretty much done everything,” he said. “I’ve batted at the top of the order, I’ve batted in the middle order, I’ve won the Ashes, I’ve lost the Ashes, I’ve won in India, you name it.
“There’s been a lot gone on, and to have all those experiences in such a short space of time can only stand me in good stead.
“Fingers crossed, I can learn from this winter and take as much of the good stuff out of it as possible.”
By his own admission, Root did not perform as well as he would have liked in Australia. After losing the opener’s slot to Michael Carberry, he managed only one half-century in eight innings and was dropped for the last Test in Sydney.
However, it would be a big surprise – and an even bigger mistake – were he not recalled for the first Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s on June 12.
But he acknowledges he needs to score runs first at county level.
“I’ve still got to cement my England place, and all I can do now is put in the performances for Yorkshire,” he said.
“I hope to have a good summer internationally, but I’ve got to score runs for Yorkshire first and try to put my name forward, the same as everyone else.
“I keep saying in every interview I do that I just want to play for England, whether that’s fitting in in the middle order or at the top of the order, but it’s out of my hands.”
Root’s bid to cement his place has been hampered by the broken right thumb he suffered during the final match of the ODI series in West Indies.
He broke the thumb in eight places when he was hit by a ball from Ravi Rampaul early in his innings but he showed Brian Close-esque bravery to battle through to score 107, his maiden ODI century, before the injury ruled him out of the World Twenty20.
“All being well, I’ll be back playing again when we go down to Middlesex in the Championship at the end of April,” said Root, who has penned a new deal that will keep him at Yorkshire until the end of 2016.
“I’ve got some movement in the joint now, which I didn’t have before, and the swelling’s started to go down a little bit.
“It’s still very misshapen, and I don’t think I’m ever going to get the normal shape back in it, but that’s just part and parcel of sport.
“You’ve got to take these knocks on the chin – or, in this case, on the thumb.”
Yorkshire build-up: Page 18.