LONDON - Joe Root insists he has no fears of burnout ahead of this winter’s Ashes tour of Australia and is planning to play in all five matches of the current one-day series against West Indies.
Root, England’s Test captain, has played 39 of a possible 42 days of international cricket so far this summer, missing only a three-match T20 series against South Africa in June.
This has been a long summer for every England player given they started it way back on May 5 with a one-day international against Ireland in Bristol.
However, for Root this has also been a momentous few months having overseen his first two series as Test captain since taking over from predecessor Alastair Cook. Both, firstly against South Africa and then West Indies, were won.
But the Ashes will be a far tougher examination of Root’s captaincy credentials in what will represent his first tour leading England.
Australia will not only be a hugely tough physical test for Root and his players but also mentally draining. And with a tour of New Zealand to follow, England will be away this winter for more than five months – their longest continuous period overseas since the days when the team travelled by boat.
With this ODI series against West Indies not ending until Friday week, England’s players will have less than a month to rest before their departure for Australia on October 28. Yet Root is in no mood to take it easy.
The 26-year-old, who scored 54 during England’s opening ODI win against the Windies at Old Trafford, said: “I feel good. We had a chat before the series and I was asked if I felt like I can play.
“Every time I feel fit and I can deliverer at my best I’ll go out and play for England. I love the opportunity we get every time we put on the shirt, it’s such a proud feeling and I’ve never lost that from the start. “I’m desperate to take every opportunity to play for England. If I’m not able to give my absolute best I’m probably doing the team a disservice, but at the moment I’m fit and ready go.”
Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, who scored his maiden ODI hundred in Manchester on Tuesday, are also key members of England’s Ashes squad currently playing in this series against West Indies. Root, though, says he will have no say on whether any of that trio will be rested over the final four matches with the Ashes in mind.
“It’s one thing I’ve been able to take a back seat on,” he said. “In terms of this series those are individual conversations. As players, you know yourself better than anyone else and in the best interests of this and the Test team you need to be really honest.
“Only you really know if you are struggling or tired. Everyone wants to play as much as they can. You are only around for so long, at the peak of your game and fitness, and you want to take every opportunity.
“Those guys have got a lot of cricket ahead of them this winter, but we have a period off before we go to recuperate and relax. I think a change in formats is almost a little break in itself, you think about different things, you approach training differently and you almost are having a bit of a break from red-ball cricket.”
Bairstow now looks set for an extended run as an opener in one-day cricket for England after his unbeaten century in Manchester. A mainstay of the Test team as wicketkeeper and middle order batsman, Bairstow has shown enough in that one innings to suggest he will be keeping Jason Roy out of the ODI side for some time to come.
Root said of his fellow Yorkshireman: “The best thing about Jonny is he can bat anywhere in the top six. He has a brilliant power game where he can be destructive at the backend or the powerplay up front and he also works and rotates the strike very well.
“He’s very quick between the wickets, always putting fielders and bowlers under pressure and it makes it a lot easier batting with him when there’s someone so quick to run the runs with you. I thought that was one thing he did really well, picking up every single and really challenging the guys on the rope, getting the twos and threes when we could.”