JOE ROOT cannot wait for cricket’s “summer of dreams”.
The England Test captain is relishing the prospect of the World Cup and Ashes in 2019.
Speaking after signing a three-year contract extension with Yorkshire, which will keep him at the club until the end of 2022, Root said: “It’s as high a profile as you can get. It’s like the summer of dreams for an English cricket fan.
“The amount of high-pressure cricket is going to be incredible. You’ve got all that international cricket and the rest of the cricket going on around it in terms of the county stuff. It doesn’t waver.”
Root, who last month led England to a 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka, meaning that they have won eight of their last nine Test matches under his captaincy, is particularly relishing the fixtures at Headingley.
England play Sri Lanka in the World Cup at Leeds on June 21 (they also face Pakistan there in a one-day international on May 19), before the ground hosts the third Ashes Test from August 22 – Headingley’s first Ashes Test since August 2009, one month before the then 18-year-old Root made his county debut.
It makes it that little bit more special when you do get the opportunity because it really counts, it’s your one chance, or your two or three games, when it’s your opportunity to really contribute to the team and help the rest of the guys try and achieve something specialYorkshire’s Joe Root
“It would be a really proud moment for me to be involved in those games,” said Root, who has played in six Tests and four one-day internationals at his home ground.
“To captain England in an Ashes series at Headingley would be really special, and you always get a different feel and a different buzz when you go and play at your home ground. It would be hard to top that one, I’m sure, and hopefully we’re in a really strong position within the series at that point.
“It should be a really fantastic summer, one to savour.”
It is a summer in which Root should feature for Yorkshire in the early weeks, with England wanting their one-day cricketers to prepare for the World Cup by taking part in the Royal London Cup.
There might also be a chance to play some County Championship cricket, with England desperate to wrest back the Ashes from Australian hands.
Root admits that it is frustrating that he cannot play more often for Yorkshire, whom he has represented only 27 times since 2012.
However, his international demands are exhaustive and only serve to make his county appearances more special to him.
“At times it feels a little bit frustrating because you want to play a bit more, but, ultimately, you’ve got the honour of playing for your country,” he said. “That’s quite a big commitment now, and the amount of international cricket makes it very difficult to come and play for Yorkshire.
“But it makes it that little bit more special when you do get the opportunity because it really counts, it’s your one chance, or your two or three games, when it’s your opportunity to really contribute to the team and help the rest of the guys try and achieve something special.
“That’s the way I’ll continue to keep looking at it, and try and do everything I can for the group and the club in the coming seasons.”
Root, who said that he cannot imagine playing for any other county, insisting that it remains “an absolute pleasure and privilege to come and play for Yorkshire”, believes that the club have “a group of players at the minute which is extremely talented”.
He hopes to inspire Yorkshire’s youngsters in the same way that the likes of former England captain Michael Vaughan inspired him when he was coming through the ranks.
“I remember being a kid coming through and having senior players like Anthony McGrath, Michael Vaughan, Darren Gough and Matthew Hoggard, some really big international players at the club, that I could watch and see how they operated and went about things, and look at their level of intensity and practice, and it was an eye-opening experience,” he added.
“I’d like to think that when I go back I can try and offer the same sort of support and guidance that they did for me coming through the system. It’s an opportunity not just to perform on the field, but also to offer as much as you can to the rest of the group, the young guys in particular.
“I’m passionate about us as a county being successful, and if I’ve got any opportunity to try and add to that and be a part of something, then that’s really exciting for me.”
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, insisted that Root already has a significant influence on the youngsters and dressing room.
“When he does play he has a massive impact coming back into the dressing room,” he said.
“The influence he has on our players is huge, and the younger players aspire to reach the levels that Joe has achieved.
“That’s the beauty of Joe, he’s always got time for the younger lads and is a fantastic role model for our younger cricketers.
“It’s great to have him on board for the foreseeable future.”