Joe Root has promised that England will leave “rest and rotation” behind them and is aiming to take advantage of the development by pushing his way back into the Twenty20 squad after a two-year absence, just in time for this autumn’s World Cup.
Only two players from any nation scored more runs than Root at the last T20 World Cup, in 2016, but as the captain of England’s Test team and a mainstay of the one-day side, and with England attempting to protect their all-format players from burnout, he has not played a T20 international since May 2019.
Three games against Pakistan next month are their only fixtures in the format before the World Cup squad is named, but Root hopes to make an unanswerable case for his inclusion with good performances in the one‑day and Test sides.
Root believes the England head coach, Chris Silverwood, and the white‑ball captain, Eoin Morgan, understand “what I can potentially bring to the table”, the Test captain said, adding: “All I can do is score runs and try and put a case forward in the games that I have available. That’s all I’m really concerned about: trying to perform as well as I can, whatever the format and whatever the side I’m playing in. If I do that well enough then you never know, I might have a chance.”
Root was the top scorer with 79 as England won the first game of a three‑match ODI series against Sri Lanka in Durham on Tuesday, and he will hope to further strengthen his case when the sides meet again at the Oval on Thursday.
“Every player wants to be part of the T20 squad,” he said. “It looks like a brilliant team to be a part of. As someone that’s currently outside of it, they’re playing some wonderful cricket.
“It looks as strong as it ever has done in the format, and whoever is in that final squad going to the World Cup will be full of confidence because they’ll know they deserve to be there. It’s a really promising sign ahead of a major tournament.”
Root hopes the same logic he intends to power his return to the T20 team will also help other batsmen in England’s Test side, many of whom have struggled to score consistently in recent months, to play their way back into form before the series against India, which starts in August.
“A batsman’s currency is runs and regardless of the format – whether with red ball, T20, the Hundred, whatever it is – going out there and scoring big runs time and time again puts you in a good place,” he said. “It fills you with confidence, it generally means you’re getting in good positions consistently well, and it carries over.
“I think it’s really important that that’s the mindset going into this next phase of the season, ahead of the India series. If we manage to do that, there’s a huge amount of talent in that top order, and they’ve all proven they can perform at Test level. So as much as anything it’s just readying yourself in the ways that you can and through the games you’ve got in front of you.”
Despite being world champions in the format, England are fourth in the Internaional Cricket Council’s ODI rankings, behind New Zealand, Australia and India. Root believes inconsistent team selection, enforced by Covid restrictions, team rotation and injuries, have caused “a little bit of transition and a bump in the road”. They would move up a place with victory at the Oval, however, and could go second if they win at least four of their five games against Sri Lanka and Pakistan over the next fortnight.
“We worked very hard to get to the top of the world and we’re very proud of that achievement, and we want to show the rest of the world that we’re there to stay and it wasn’t just for a short time,” Root said.
“Having a block of games is a great opportunity to remind everyone that in the 50-over format we are a very strong side. There’s a hell of a lot of quality within the squad. You saw that in pockets in the first game and hopefully we can repeat that through the rest of the matches.”