Joe’s Winter of content as the Wizard of Oz goes Down Under

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Since signing his first professional Yorkshire contract in 2010, Joe Root has spent Christmas, and his birthday, abroad more times than his family home in Dore.

So, it will be a familiar feeling for the 22-year-old this winter when he celebrates Christmas in Australia, before turning 23 five days later on the final day of the fourth Ashes Test match at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground.

In 2010 Root spent the winter in Adelaide, training with the Darren Lehmann Academy under the watchful eye of the former Yorkshire legend, and current Australia coach.

The following year he went to Sri Lanka with the England Lions, and then celebrated his latest birthday with a cold Kingfisher in India, after making his debut for England in the Test match, ODI and Twenty20 arenas.

Despite being a keen, family-orientated young man, Root would not have swapped these experiences for the world. The Lions tour of Sri Lanka played a big part in making him the confident player of spin bowling that he is today, and helped him develop an impressive array of sweep and reverse-sweep shots.

A year after receiving his first senior England call-up, Root again packs his bags for another winter away in Australia as an established member of the England side.

After being promoted to open the batting in this summer’s home Ashes series, Root scored 339 runs - including a stunning 180 at Lord’s - as England retained the urn with a 3-0 victory.

“It was an exciting experience, and I loved minute of it,” he said.

“Winning the Ashes is something I dreamt of doing when I was a young boy, and I’ll treasure the experience for a long time.

“It is nice to know that I contributed and I’ll take that forward into the winter.

“We’ll make sure we’re ready.”

Ahead of the first Test match at The Gabba on November 21, Root and his England teammates arrive in Australia tomorrow [Friday].

In contrast, some of the Australian players are still in India taking part in the ODI series between the two countries, and Root admitted: “If anything it might give us a slight advantage.

“But we are concentrating on our own preparation and making sure we are ready for the series.

“They are a very good side, especially at home, so we’re going to have to play some very good cricket, but all the lads are looking forward to getting out there and making it a really good series.”

Root’s fellow Sheffielder Michael Vaughan, meanwhile, has paid tribute to his protégé, admitting: “Joe is a great story for all club cricketers.

“He has shown how far you can go if you have a dream and a vision, and hard work.

“All juniors now playing the game should look at Joe and think that, in 10 or 15 years, that could be me.

“That’s what the England team is all about - trying to create heroes for youngsters to inspire them, and Joe is one of those heroes now.”

n There was further cheer for Root earlier this week when he was awarded an ECB central contract for the next 12 months.

The contract effectively means that the batsman is an employee of the ECB, rather than Yorkshire, for the next year, and is further evidence of his rise to prominence within the national set-up.

Root, who plays in all three formats of the game, is the only new name on this year’s list, and is included at the expense of Eoin Morgan.

Morgan remains a key member of the one-day and T20 England squads, but has fallen out of favour in the Test arena and hasn’t played a five-day game for England since February last year, against Pakistan in Dubai.

National selector Geoff Miller said: “This reflects the important role Joe has played for England since making his debut last year and will, I’m sure, continue to play across all formats.”