Joe Root ‘desperate’ to tour but puts Ashes decision on hold

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 (PA)
(PA)

Joe Root says he is unable to commit to leading England on the Ashes tour until he sees the Covid-19 conditions laid out later this week.

The fact that this winter’s tour could be his last Down Under and his lack of a Test century in Australia contribute to his “desperation” to tour, but some doubt remains over his participation.

Root was today named the Cinch PCA Awards Men’s Player of the Year after a stunning summer in which he scored centuries in three successive Tests against India. Root said it was especially pleasing to win an award “that is adjudged by your peers”.

As he is not part of England’s T20 World Cup squad, Root gets a rare breather in the coming weeks, but uncertainty over the Ashes is dominating English cricket’s agenda. The series seems certain to go ahead, but whether England’s top players opt to travel remains to be seen.

The uncertainty is problematic for England. ECB officials have been studying the conditions laid out by Australian authorities before possibly going back to them with some amendments.

England’s players and coaches are due to learn more about quarantine and arrangements for their families later in the week, but all-formatters such as Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood are set to leave to begin their quarantine for the T20 World Cup in the UAE as soon as Monday. They could be away from home for almost four months if they also commit to touring Australia.

Players will be given time to decide whether they will tour Australia before a squad is named next month.

“We are still waiting for some information,” said skipper Root. “Hopefully that will be with us soon.

“Of course, it’s been a discussion point throughout the whole summer. It’s a big deal for all of us.”

While the lack of information has been “frustrating”, Root sounded an optimistic tone about the tour, although he added that no player will be forced into touring.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“I’m very hopeful and think I speak on behalf of everyone that Ashes cricket, an away tour to Australia, is just one of those things that you’re just desperate to be on,” he said.

“The position I’m at in my career, it could be the last opportunity I get to go, so of course it’s something you’re desperate to do, desperate to hopefully make history over there and be part of something very special.”

Root turns 31 in December, meaning that if he were to make the fourth Ashes tour of his career in four years’ time his international career would be almost 15 years old. The ICC’s No1 Test batter is acutely aware that he is yet to register a century in 10 Tests in Australia, where he averages 38 (compared with 50 overall).

“I’m very aware of that, and it’s something that I desperately want to put right,” he said. “As a senior batter in the side, you want to be the one scoring the runs, you want to be the one making those big hundreds. I have done that this year so far. But it’s the one place where I feel like I have underperformed and I’ve not got the best out of myself, so it’s a great driver for me to go and do it this time.”

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