VIDEO: A Sheffield double - England cricketer Joe Root plays Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Mardy Bum’ on ukulele

Sheffield’s Joe Root already has two strings to his bow as England try to fine-tune their World Cup preparations.

Batting at number four and helping out with some off-breaks are his forte on the pitch. But off it, he is developing a new skill - with the ukulele.

Root admits he has yet to master the art - modestly describing his efforts to date as “horrendous” - but he is determined to press on in the hope he could yet provide an entertaining diversion for himself and team-mates by the time they head down under next month.

As England focus minds on the more immediate challenge of trying to avoid series defeat against Sri Lanka on Wednesday, Root may well find himself switching off for an hour or so first in his hotel room with his trusty uke.

Asked if he practises often, he said: “Now and again, yes ... (but) I’m horrendous at it.”

His favourite repertoire is not a homage to George Formby. Instead, he prefers adapting the modern standards of Oasis.

Root is aware of Formby’s celebrated pre-war performances, but has not yet been tempted to try his hand at tunes such as ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows’.

“Not yet,” he said.

“I might learn it for you, though.”

Lancastrian Formby sang along with saucy double-entendre too, but Root - from the other side of the Pennines - is playing a straighter bat.

“I can’t really sing, so I try to make sure I play loud enough so no one can hear that.

“It sounds horrendous at the minute. But I hope, one day, it might sound all right.”

His ukulele, it turns out, got a look-in only because of the constraints of touring.

A guitar was Root’s first choice, but he had to pack away that idea and choose a more portable instrument.

“I wanted to learn the guitar. But you can’t really lug it around.

“If guys want to take golf clubs and stuff (on tour), it would be a bit selfish of me try to take up space with a guitar - and I can fit the ukulele in my suitcase.

“You can end up spending a lot of time indoors. If it gets dark, you can’t really play too much golf ... so it’s a good way of relaxing, and staying off my feet.”

VIDEO courtesy of Cricket England. For more, visit their Youtube channel here