Joe Root wants England stars to play in new city-based T20 tournament

Joe Root.
Joe Root.
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Joe Root believes it is essential he and his England team-mates are able to play at least some matches in a new city-based Twenty20 – and that they can do so too for a free-to-air television audience.

England’s new Test captain grew up watching the 2005 Ashes series, and other England matches, mostly on non-subscription television channels.

That availability helped foster his interest, already being steeped in Yorkshire club cricket, and he does not want the next generation to be deprived of the same opportunity.

The England and Wales Cricket Board appears certain to press ahead with a new high-profile eight-team Twenty20 competition from 2020 onwards.

But the governing body has already indicated that – because the tournament will span July and August and clash with home Test series - England players are unlikely to be heavily involved, other than as marketing figureheads.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison must also balance the universal reach of free-to-air television with the revenue derived from higher prices satellite broadcasters are expected to pay – and the likely compromise is that less than a quarter of the 36 matches planned will be available to all.

Root made clear his high regard for the content, live and otherwise, provided by ECB’s pay TV partners of the past decade – but spelled out the largest possible audience is a crucial element too.

“They continue to make it interesting to viewers, but you can’t beat the fact that it is going to be available to everyone and not just those who are subscribing,” he said.

“The more people we can get watching the game can only be good for it.”

As for his own involvement on the pitch, and that of his Test team-mates, he is still hoping it can be substantial.

“IPL clashes with Test matches; Big Bash clashes with Tests,” he said.

“It is important that the guys playing within the England side do represent and play a number of games - whether it is slightly smaller than we would like.”

Root had another wish granted this week, when it transpired fears that his home ground Headingley might lose the right to stage Test cricket from 2020 were quickly allayed.

Yorkshire were deeply concerned, after the withdrawal of a £4million Leeds City Council grant, that they would not be able to afford to re-develop the stand at the Football Ground end to ensure minimum capacity under new ECB stipulations.

But with council help, they found alternative backing for the £35million project.

Speaking at Headingley, a relieved Root said: “It’s very important that they keep the history that this ground’s steeped in, and make the most of it.

“Cricket is ingrained in this county from being a young kid, not only in my family.

“You speak to most Yorkshiremen and they’ll tell you that they’re from Yorkshire and that they like cricket.

“It is going to be important that they keep developing, because if they want to keep up with these other grounds with bigger capacities, we’re going to have to make sure we make the adjustments needed.”

:: Joe Root was speaking on behalf of BRUT Sport Style, the new fragrance from men’s grooming brand BRUT