Root unwitting victim of arrogance within England camp

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THE final game of the international summer takes place on Monday when England play Australia in Southampton.

Eight days later, Yorkshire play their final County Championship match of the season against Surrey at The Oval.

But can Joe Root take part in that potentially vital fixture in south-east London, a match Yorkshire may need to win to lift the Championship title?

Can he heckers like, with England decreeing that he needs to rest ahead of a busy international winter.

Now apologies if this column is starting to sound like a broken record, for increasingly of late I have found myself exasperated by matters relating to Team England.

From the surly paranoia that characterises most of their public/press pronouncements 
to the decision to take away players from key county games for such vital engagements as matches against Bangladesh A, there is something particularly unsavoury about the current set-up.

There is an arrogance that cuts right through the camp, from the management down, a feeling that county cricket exists solely for their benefit rather than that of the clubs, the players themselves or – heaven forfend – those apparently inconsequential folk: namely, the supporters.

It is an arrogance that does not even start to be justified by a 3-0 Ashes victory over a mediocre Australia, an achievement met with predictably over-the-top celebrations that made many of us cringe.

The decision not to make Root available for the Surrey match is proof of this arrogance, a decision that was communicated to Yorkshire well in advance of any temptation to pose the futile question.

If Root, a physically fit 22-year-old, cannot play a Championship game eight days after the climax of a one-day series, and two months ahead of the next Test in Brisbane in November, then my name is Lord Hawke.

For if he needs to rest ahead of the Australia tour, it can only be for one reason – he has been forced to take part in so many meaningless practice sessions this summer that his body has finally given out on him.

Indeed, one wonders how much fresher all the players would be if they were not obliged to take part in the interminable surfeit of practice drills that apparently justify the positions of such as England team director Andy Flower, a man who increasingly makes his predecessor, Duncan Fletcher, look like a member of the Chuckle Brothers.

But the person I feel sorry for is Root.

What a splendid fellow he is – a superb cricketer and a rare ambassador for club and country.

Why, if I was 22 years old and had his ability to brandish a cricket bat, I would want to be brandishing it as often as possible – and certainly in a match in which my club could potentially win the Championship.

Think of it – a 22-year-old denied the chance to take part in a game that could seal only his club’s second title since 1968.

I don’t know about you, but I would feel pretty sore about that.

A glance through the statistics shows that Root has played just 10 first-class games this season – 10.

Not many years ago, the first reaction if you had said that someone had played so few fixtures would have been – was he injured?

Under the circumstances, we should probably be grateful that two of those games were for Yorkshire at the start of the season, when Root’s contributions – 49, 182, 236 – kick-started his and Yorkshire’s campaign.

I could understand it all better, you know, if England were world-beaters in these days of central contracts, but – let’s face it – they are not.

Since the advent of those contracts, and the vastly reduced county appearances by international stars, what have they accomplished?

Well, they have won one Twenty20 World Cup and were briefly world Test No 1 on the back of the 2005 Ashes.

It is hardly West Indies circa 1980, or Australia circa 2000, and it in no way justifies depriving a 22-year-old of the chance to help his club win the Championship title.