Cricket: Joe Root welcomes potential North v South battle

Joe Root in action for Yorkshire against Surrey this weekJoe Root in action for Yorkshire against Surrey this week
Joe Root in action for Yorkshire against Surrey this week
Andrew Strauss' North-versus-South initiative to provide a possible new pathway to World Cup contention is sure to be well-received by those hoping to break into England's team for 2019.

The announcement of next spring's pre-season fixtures in Abu Dhabi, including five England-qualified players on each side who impress via the Professional Cricketers Association MVP rankings computer alone, is a method to over-ride any notion of subjective judgment.

If four men in any discipline in each region - plus a spinner on either side - rise above the rest on the MVP formula, they are in.

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No one can veto their inclusion on a gut feeling, in a selection meeting, or for any other reason.

On that basis, a dramatic return to this summer's Royal London Cup for Kevin Pietersen would perhaps deliver a nasty googly for the England and Wales Cricket Board's director.

Strauss, however, can probably rest relatively easy that particular outlandish prospect is off-the-scale unlikely.

Closer to home, he will be heartened too to hear a welcome for his new idea not just from outside the current England team but very much the heart of it.

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Joe Root, England's linchpin batsman for all seasons and formats, believes the North-South series should work to the advantage of all - starting with his existing international team-mates.

"I think the more competition and pressure you can put on the current squad the better," said Root.

"If you're going to win a World Cup, you need to perform under pressure."

As for those hoping for a belated chance to prove their county prowess will not be out of place at the highest level, none will be able to cite anything other than a level playing field.

"It's good to give guys opportunity," added Root.

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"I suppose the only way you can pick an England team really is from performances in county cricket.

"So I think it's a good incentive for young guys coming through and for guys who feel they've been proving their point for years, and feel like they're missing out."

Root is convinced it is worth taking a chance to see if the innovative move pays off.

"We'll have to wait and see how it goes. Only by doing it will we see if it really works or not," he said.

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"But it's great to see us trying to get ahead of the game in one-day cricket."

England's Test vice-captain is highly-encouraged to see new emphasis put into reviving this country's limited-overs fortunes - with the home World Cup looming - is being born out in deed as well as word.

"It's been a big push from Straussy, and the whole set-up, trying to move one-day cricket - which is really exciting," he said.

"It's really good to be in and around the side, seeing all that happen."

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As for those given the opportunity to press their claims via the rankings, Root expects them to buy into the process in 50-over cricket this summer.

"I don't see why they wouldn't," he added.

"It's a good opportunity for them to put their name forward and prove that they're strong contenders for that World Cup squad."

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