SHEFFIELD cricketing starlet Joe Root travels to India later this month to represent his country – after sealing a new contract with his county.
The 20-year-old opening batsman scored almost 1,000 County Championship runs in his first full season in the Yorkshire first team and was offered a two-year extension to his current deal, which was due to expire next year.
Yorkshire have already secured the future of a number of their promising young players, including Gary Ballance, 21, and 20-year-old spinner Azeem Rafiq, from Barnsley.
“I was delighted to finally get the negotiations out of the way and put pen to paper on a new contract,” said Root.
“I’m just glad it’s all sorted. I’ve got three more years, at least, at Yorkshire, and I’m sure they’ll be successful ones.
“Playing for Yorkshire is a tremendous honour; it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do and it’s not something I plan on giving up lightly.”
The Dore man is now undergoing an intensive three-week training programme at England’s National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough before flying out to India for an England Performance Programme training camp, alongside Yorkshire colleague Jonny Bairstow.
He returns home just before Christmas and will then begin his preparations for the 2012 season with the county, who expect to have a new coaching structure in place before the end of the year.
“Going to India will be a great opportunity to put a case forward and show England exactly what I can do,” said Root. “But I’m trying not to look too far ahead. All I can do is try my best and give myself the greatest chance possible of breaking into the England set up.”
His case was certainly aided by an impressive 2011 season, which saw him score his maiden first class 100 and make his debut for the England Lions side. But despite Root’s 937 County Championship runs, at an average of 36.03, Yorkshire were relegated to the Second Division.
“It was a really disappointing season for everyone concerned with the club. We were gutted to go down and now, of course, we’re looking to bounce back straight away,” he added.
“With the squad we have, we’ve definitely got a chance of achieving that and I guarantee all the lads are very hungry to do just that.
“But we’re not taking it lightly; there are a lot of good sides in that division and each of us will have to perform to the best of our ability if we’re to achieve our goal.”
Former captain Craig White has left his job on the coaching staff and all other coaches have been forced to re-apply for their jobs.