Why Yorkshire CCC and England star Joe Root has earned chance to shoot it out in Indian Premier League with world’s best

MURMURS of disquiet attended the news recently that Joe Root is set to put his name forward for next year’s Indian Premier League.

TAKE ME BACK: Joe Root, pictured during his last T20 appearance for England in Cardiff against Pakistan in May 2019. Picture: Simon Galloway/PA

The Yorkshireman is “desperate” to play in the tournament for the first time having previously been overlooked.

The IPL franchises are increasing in number next season from eight to 10, thereby creating another 16 overseas slots, and the competition does not coincide with England’s schedule.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Granted, it would pile yet more cricket upon yet more cricket for Root and many of his England colleagues, but there is a window of opportunity and Root wants to seize it.

Joe Root has always performed well for his county in the T20 format. Picture: Tony Johnson

Whatever one’s view of the IPL, and mine is lower than the ocean floor, I believe that Root is entitled to put himself forward and go if chosen.

True, there is always the fear that his batting at Test level might be affected, but is anyone seriously suggesting that a few weeks of T20 will fatally detract from his ability to play in the five-day format?

Yes, it is undeniable that a man who has not played T20 internationals for over two years has recently soared to new heights at Test level, perhaps as a consequence to some degree or other; Root has had a remarkable few months and may go on to beat the record for the most Test runs in a calendar year (he needs another 334 to eclipse Mohammad Yousuf’s 1,788 in 2006).

But I do not think, as some observers have suggested, that Root should be prevented from taking part in the IPL, or that the England and Wales Cricket Board should step in to stop it happening, perhaps by offering Root more money on top of his central contract.

New Zealand's Kane Williamson is one of the world's so-called 'Fab Four' batsmen, along with Joe Root, Steve Smith and Virat Kohli Picture: Nick Potts/PA

As that contract already pays him in considerable terms (most professional cricketers would not mind being a few bob behind Root, let alone a few runs), the financial side of things rather strikes me as missing the point.

Root will hardly be oblivious to it but there is no reason to doubt him when he says that he wants to take part for cricketing reasons and to experience something which many of his peers have often experienced. Even if you don’t like the IPL – and I would rather spend three hours staring at a blank television screen without food or water to hand – it seems unfair to deprive, or to wish to deprive, one of the game’s greatest players the opportunity to take part in something has not been denied, for example, to the other members of cricket’s so-called “Fab Four” – Kane Williamson, Steve Smith and Virat Kohli.

When Root eventually hangs up his whites (may that day be a long time hence), he will naturally want to look back and be able to say that he experienced a competition which does, after all, feature so many of the world’s best players and coaches.

It is understandable that Root would want to prove himself in that company and to excel in as many formats of the game as possible.

TOP MAN: India's captain Virat Kohli averages over 50 in all three formats. Picture: AP/Aijaz Rahi.

He also wants to play T20 for England again, with another World Cup taking place in Australia next year, having been overlooked for the tournament presently under way in the UAE and Oman.

Of course, many will say, indeed have said, that Root would be better off forgetting about T20 altogether and focusing on being a truly great Test and one-day player, which he is in any case.

Although I have much sympathy for that position, which is eminently sensible and well-intended, I also feel that it should be Root’s decision and Root’s alone.

If anyone has earned the right to call the shots in his career, then it is surely a man without whose skill and dedication English cricket would be in considerably less of a healthy position than it is presently.

English cricket owes Root as opposed to the other way round.

Nor should it be said by any stretch of the imagination that Root is a poor or even a mediocre T20 player.

On the contrary, his record for England is good (he averages 35 with a strike-rate of 126) and he is a more-than-handy spin bowler too.

His performances for Yorkshire in T20 are routinely excellent, and although he can hit a long ball he has consistently shown that great cricket skills can transfer to any format and that there is a place for class as well as clout in the 20-over circus.

Williamson has also proven that verity, and it is interesting to note that the New Zealander has a slightly inferior T20 record to Root, with an international average of 31 and a strike-rate of 125.

Smith has a worse average (27) and a slightly better strike-rate (129) than the Yorkshireman, while Kohli trumps them all with an average of 52 and a strike-rate of 139.

Kohli now averages over 50 in all three international formats, Root in two of them, with only England’s desire to manage Root’s workload – allied to a surfeit of particularly outstanding white-ball players in English cricket – denying Root the opportunity to reveal similar cross-format dexterity.

Ultimately, it is a difficult situation and one can see both sides of the argument. But, like it or not, the IPL is here to stay and it is not unreasonable for the best players – Root included – to want to take part in it should the schedule permit and the chance arise.