EXCLUSIVE: Joe Root shuns IPL riches to concentrate on England

England's Joe Root celebrates their series victory during day four of the Fifth Investec Ashes Test at The Oval
England's Joe Root celebrates their series victory during day four of the Fifth Investec Ashes Test at The Oval
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Sheffield’s Joe Root is prepared to turn his back on the riches of the Indian Premier League, insisting: My England Test career comes first.

Root, England’s Test vice-captain, has established himself as one of the most exciting young players on the international scene with a series of commanding displays, in all three formats of the game.

A number of IPL franchises would be interested in bidding for the services of Root, along with England teammates such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler - who has registered for the 2016 IPL auction after losing his Test place to Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow.

Andrew Strauss, England’s director of cricket, hinted after taking the job that players in future will be allowed to skip Test series to play IPL cricket. England’s first Test of 2016 is at Headingley, starting on May 19 - which would leave Root just two days of preparation.

The England star has not ruled out ever registering for the IPL, but admitted: “This year, it’s probably unrealistic with the scheduling of it. It wouldn’t be fair on England.

“We’ve spent all winter away from home so to go straight to the IPL and come home two days before the first Test of the summer would be unfair on England. I wouldn’t be fresh as a daisy, either physically or mentally. I’m putting England first.”

Root’s immediate attentions are focused on helping England to a series win in South Africa - which they will achieve with victory in the third Test, which begins today in Johannesburg.

But the 25-year-old, speaking to The Star before flying to South Africa, added: “The IPL would be great for me to do. Not this year, of course, but to learn from the best in the world, in game time or around the nets, to see how they approach the game, would be brilliant.

“The more players we encourage to experience that, the stronger and better English cricket will be.”

“It can’t hurt your game at all,” Root, who learned his trade at Sheffield Collegiate, added.

“Go and learn from the best; chat with them, see how they go about things. Play in high-pressure situations.

“That’s the thing with our current Twenty20 domestic game is that, unless it’s a big Roses clash or a London derby, you don’t get that full house with a pressure atmosphere. Whereas you get that every game in the IPL.

“The more we can recreate that pressure for players before they play international cricket, rather than experiencing it for the first time when playing for England, then the smoother the transition will be. And then guys can slot straight into the England team.”

Another consideration is the sheer size of Root’s workload, since his England Test debut in 2012. He was rested for the One-Day series against Australia last year, and a troublesome back injury flares up intermittently.

“It’s alright at the minute,” Root revealed.

“It needs a lot of work all the time; stretching, maintenance and gym work. But, fingers crossed, it’s getting better. It can be hard work at times and it’s quite frustrating, especially as no-one knows what causes it, but it’s never going to stop me from playing for England. So I just have to find a way to deal with it.”