Ahead of a crucial year of Test cricket for England, skipper Joe Root has proclaimed that he is hungry to make the next phase of his cricketing career his peak. Root also stated that England would have to adapt physically and mentally in different conditions, with Ashes coming up this year.
England walk into one of the most important years of their red-ball plans, with the series against New Zealand and, later, The Ashes determining where they find themselves in Test cricket. While they had a head start against India, with a 1-0 in the series away from home, they succumbed to spin in all the three remaining Tests to throw away the lead and the series.
Despite the result, England’s skipper Joe Root remains unfazed, stating that the group of players have made steady progress and big strides in the last year. He also added that he has grown to a level where he now has a good handle on things on a personal level.
“I feel I've grown a lot in the past year or so, and now have a good handle on things. I was obviously disappointed with the way India finished, but I do feel we're making big strides as a Test group, and we're coming into an exciting phase of games, which could really see us flourish.” Root told Sportsmail, reported Daily Mail.
“I certainly feel the best is still to come,' he says. 'I want to have more series like the start of this winter, and produce those big hundreds which help you win series. I'm hungry to make the next phase of my career the peak,” he added.
In 2021, across 12 innings, Root has already scored 794 runs, emerging as one of the best Test players in the world of cricket. Despite that, he had worked very hard on a few aspects, both technically and mentally. He also stated that hopefully, this slight change over stuff would help him have a ‘bumper’ year ahead.
“I've worked very hard on a few aspects of my game, the mental side as well as technical. I feel a lot more in control, and like I'm playing the ball much later. That, for me, is the art of batting – if you can keep your head and hands as close together as possible, you give yourself a better chance. Hopefully I can have a bumper year.”
For England, though, the year presents several challenges - home and away - starting with the tour against New Zealand before the much-awaited clash against Australia later this year, away from home. Root only points out that England should be able to handle the changes mentally and transfer skill-sets and learning from one part of the world to the other.
“We're going to be playing in very different conditions this summer, and in the Ashes, but there are elements of India we can take forward. One thing we can draw from it is the pressure side in those difficult situations: how do you handle it mentally, how do you transfer it to other parts of the world?”
Last year, England were one of the first sides in international cricket to raise their voice against racism, when they played the series against West Indies. Root insisted that England would continue to have those discussions this year and use the platform to promote diversity.
“I know we will continue to have those discussions and work very hard to use our platform as international players to make the game as diverse as we can. You'll certainly see that with things we'll put into action this summer.”
One of the key components of England’s success over the last 12 months has been their rotation policy - which has helped players keep fresh considering the non-stop schedule that they had. The Yorkshire batsman stated that players’ welfare is paramount and insisted that the benefits of rotation will help the Three Lions in the long term.
“It's paramount that the players' welfare is first and foremost. I think we've actually dealt with it pretty well, and the guys have been honest and open with where they're at. We will see benefits of it in the long term. It's difficult to get that balance right, but we've tried to do right by the players.”