London,Feb27: Joe Root's desire to play more T20 cricket and develop his game in the shortest format is well-documented yet his international commitments have allowed precious little time for that over the past two years. It is the reason why he went and played in the Big Bash for Sydney Thunder late last year between England's tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies and the reason why he put himself up for the IPL auction in 2018, albeit without getting a deal. It is an inch he is desperate to scratch.
It was interesting, then, that he was named in England's squad for the three-match T20I series against West Indies which follows the current five-match ODI rubber. The likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, and Moeen Ali, who was withdrawn from the T20 squad today, have been rested for that series but Root has not. Partly, that is because England's Test captain is not playing in this year's IPL, unlike the three players mentioned, but it is also a reminder that Root still wants to crack the shortest format and still wants to play more of it.
"Why did I not want to miss the T20 games? Because I love playing cricket for England, simple as that," Root said. "And I've not had much opportunity to play T20 cricket in the last couple of years. I don't want to miss out on opportunities to play when I'm fit and I feel I'm in a good place to help the side to win and be part of a squad that has a very exciting couple of years ahead of it."
Despite his lack of T20 game time of late and a poor spell with the Thunder which yielded the highest score of just 26, Root's T20 record remains strong. He also believes his time in Australia was not wasted and that he moved his game on, even if the runs did not come to prove it. "It was a new adventure," he said. "I've not played any franchise cricket before, so it was very eye-opening and I learned a lot about my own game. And when you have your family with you, it does make life a lot easier.
"It's easy to come away from a tournament not having scored many runs and not saying I got something out of it. But genuinely I feel like there was a big development in that side of my game. More than anything, we're looking at breaking the score down and how best to approach it. And how best to approach it with who you bat with at any given time. If that can transfer over into 50-over cricket as well, that will be fantastic. And it feels like it has in a way. With those T20s coming up, it will be great to see some of that going into those games."