YORKSHIRE have made a great start to the County Championship season but the real test starts now.
Joe Root was only available for the first two games and he’s played a big part in their rise to second in the table.
I’m pleased that Joe has started the summer well because I felt for him during the winter.Darren Gough on the England Test captain
By the time Yorkshire play their next Championship match at Kent in mid-May, Joe will be on England duty at the start of a massive summer with the World Cup and Ashes.
With Yorkshire not going in with an overseas batsman this year, there will be a lot of responsibility on a young batting line-up to deliver.
The importance of having Joe available from the start of the season, especially with the club missing Jonny Bairstow due to the IPL, has been huge.
His hundred at Nottingham was superb after getting hit on the bonce by Stuart Broad, and he followed it with 94 in the win at Hampshire.
As is the case when he plays for England, it seems that whenever Joe gets runs, everyone else gets them, too.
Gary Ballance has also made a great start with back-to-back hundreds, and Joe just seems to have a positive effect on the lads around him.
To be honest, I can’t believe that Yorkshire were lucky enough to have him for the first two games.
If I was coach of an IPL side, he’d be the first player I’d sign.
It’s so important to have a player like that who can bat to all conditions, and who always bats for the benefit of the team. Players like Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli are the same – so valuable.
How Joe is not in the IPL, I can’t understand. Your most important places in the batting line-up are four, five and six in the IPL, not the openers when all the field is up.
It’s also been great for the Yorkshire fans to see Joe in action.
Although both Championship games were away, those who attended would just have been delighted to see him play.
I played in an era when it was difficult as an England player because people didn’t understand so well when you weren’t allowed to play county cricket.
I was part of the first centrally-contracted bunch, and people didn’t realise as much in those days that although you wanted to play for your club, you weren’t allowed to as you were contracted to the ECB, whereas everyone now knows how the system works and it’s a bonus when you have the England lads available.
I’m pleased that Joe has started the summer well because I felt for him during the winter.
After a great tour of Sri Lanka, things went wrong in the West Indies and I thought he looked a little bit stressed.
Whoever was to blame, England got it horribly wrong in the Caribbean, and I just think that Joe has not yet been able to get a stranglehold on the Test team and the side that he wants.
Alastair Cook, the previous captain, has left now, but the coach, Trevor Bayliss, is still there and I think it will take a while before Joe can fully get his own team as opposed to the one he inherited from Alastair.
When Eoin Morgan became England one-day captain, he had a total stranglehold of that side and put his stamp down straight away.
But Joe couldn’t be as forceful in the same way because he’s still working under someone else’s regime.
When I went back to Yorkshire in 2007, I had the benefit of having a clean slate. It was my decision on everything.
With Joe, it’s not quite the same because Bayliss was already there and he’s got his plans on how he wants to play.
What we saw in the West Indies, in my view, was the first sign of a relationship fracture because we saw that they both had different ideas.
One was saying one thing in a press conference and one was saying another, and then Jos Buttler as vice-captain was coming out and saying another thing as well.
There seemed to be a slight fracture in the game-plan and how England wanted to go forward.
Looking ahead, there are clearly places up for grabs at the top of the Test side, and it’s great to see people like Ballance coming to the fore.
I think he’s a terrific player, and if he keeps getting hundreds and playing like he is, you can’t overlook him.
There’s a lot of batsmen getting runs – the likes of Will Jacks, Ollie Pope, Rory Burns, Sam Northeast, and, I’m pleased to say, Haseeb Hameed.
When you speak to Alastair Cook and ask him of all the openers he’s played with over the years, who’s the most talented that he thought would go on and get 10,000 Test runs, he says Hameed.
What’s happened to him in the last 18 months has been unbelievable, but he’s started this season brilliantly and needs to carry it on.
With 10 Championship rounds before the Ashes, everyone has a chance to stake a claim.
It’s a great opportunity waiting to be grabbed.