WATCH: Yorkshire's Joe Root already laying the foundations for England's big year ahead
FRUSTRATING as he may find it being sat on the sidelines as his beloved Yorkshire scrap for survival in Division One of the County Championship, Joe Root is fully aware of the bigger picture.
The England Test captain is understandably taking a keen interest in his county’s penultimate four-day encounter of 2018 against Hampshire at Emerald Headingley, with a maximum of 18 points required by Andrew Gale’s side to ensure another season of top-flight Championship cricket in 2019.
Root was in Leeds yesterday – Morley to be more precise – but saw none of the action at Yorkshire’s headquarters a little under seven miles away as he was helping launch a new initiative by Village Hotels Club aimed at encouraging youngsters to take up cricket.
Root, fresh from leading England to a 4-1 series victory over world No 1 ranked Test side India, is on a rare break from playing, but faces another long, gruelling 12 months ahead.
First up is a seven-week tour of Sri Lanka which begins at the start of October and incorporates a three-match Test series, one Twenty20 encounter and a best-of-five ODI series.
The New Year brings a similarly hectic schedule between February and March in the West Indies, with a couple more T20 clashes thrown in for good measure.
But it is the summer which could bring most reward for Root and his team, first as the host nation of the 2019 World Cup before the always eagerly-anticipated five-match Ashes Test series.
Given what happened Down Under last winter – Root’s first tour as a Test captain – there will certainly be no shortage of desire from Root and his charges to set the record straight, albeit without the talismanic Alastair Cook following his retirement after the final Test against India earlier this month.
“It is a massive year in 2019 for obvious reasons and there has already been a lot of preparation gone into next summer,” said Root, after putting 30 pupils from Morley Newlands Academy through their paces in a cricket workshop.
“It has been frustrating watching county cricket at times and wanting to be involved in the back end of the season.
“But sometimes you have to understand that with those big goals in mind – winning an Ashes series and winning a World Cup – that finding opportunities and times to rest and recover are going to be really important.
“So there has already been plenty of planning going into scheduling peoples workloads (over the next few months) and getting the right cricket in and making sure they are best prepared for next summer.”
The Village Club Hotel ‘Village Green’ initiative was launched in partnership with the Yorkshire Cricket Board and supported by CricketKidz Sports Learning Zone. The hotel chain has pledged more than 30,000 volunteering hours per yuear across its 30 hotels and helaht clubs to support local communities.