England captain Joe Root defends Ashes prep at IPL despite bench-warming role

 (AP)
(AP)

Joe Root has defended his decision to prepare for the Ashes by playing a limited role in the IPL.

England’s former captain has been selected just three times for Rajasthan Royals and batted just once, scoring only 10 runs from 15 balls.

It led to suggestions he might have better prepared for the five-Test series against Australia by playing Championship cricket in English conditions rather than warming the bench, but he insisted the IPL had proved the better preparation.

“I love playing for Yorkshire and I love the County Championship,” Root (right, playing for the Royals) told ESPNcricInfo. “It’s the bedrock of our game back in the UK and it’s so influential in developing players.

“But for where I am within my game and my development, having an experience like this for the first time at 32 years old, I feel that’s going to benefit me more in the long run than playing four Championship games where I might not learn too much about myself.

“Look at the fixtures: one of them’s already been rained out, one was a rain-affected game and ended up a draw. Is that really going to ready me for an Ashes series?

“Or by having these experiences here in India six months out from the World Cup, in these conditions, speaking to all these players, trying to learn as much as I can — mainly about T20 cricket but also having good, strong conversations about the game in general. Are they going to make me a better player? I think so.”

Root is England’s second-highest scorer in Test cricket history behind only Alastair Cook and is expected to play an integral role in his first Ashes series not as captain since 2015. To prepare for it, he has spoken at length with his IPL head coach Kumar Sangakkara and also recently spent over an hour with Brian Lara.

“It’s hard not to come away from that as a better player,” said Root. “I think that I’ll come back ready and excited to dive back into Test cricket and be ready for what’s going to be an amazing summer.

“It wasn’t something that I just did, I thought there was a real plus side to it and that, if I treated the experience in the right way, then I would come back in a really good place, with more knowledge and in a better position.”