Joe Root is hoping to go out with a bang later this week, as the England star ends a near half-season spell in county cricket with a pair of crunch Vitality Blast fixtures.

Root has played five Vitality County Championship matches for Yorkshire  already in 2024, added to six Vitality Blast fixtures. 

He has two more left in the latter competition, starting with the blockbuster Roses clash against Lancashire Lightning at Headingley tomorrow (7.15pm).

The Vikings then face Durham at Seat Unique Riverside on Friday evening before Root turns his attentions to preparations for England’s Test Match summer, beginning early next month. 

“It’s always great fun to come back and play for Yorkshire. I love it,” said the 33-year-old from Sheffield. 

“And, thankfully, I’ve still got a couple more games left.”

Yorkshire’s Blast campaign has reached a crucial juncture. 

Joe Root

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Joe Root in Vitality Blast action for Yorkshire this summer. 

The Roses fixture is the county’s seventh and marks the halfway point in their North Group campaign. They have won three and lost three. 

But two of those defeats have come in their last two matches, against Birmingham at Edgbaston last Friday and then Leicestershire at Headingley on Sunday.

They could do with arresting that mini slide quickly, and beating North Group leaders Lancashire for the second season running at Headingley would be the perfect way to do it. 

“It’s always the one I look for and hope it’s there when I’m available,” continued Root. 

“And look at the spectacle of it this year. 

“The club are putting the football (England v Denmark, Euro2024 – 5pm) on the big screen beforehand, and it should be a really tasty atmosphere and a good night. 

Joe Root

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. Joe Root celebrates a half-century in the 2015 Blast fixture against Lancashire at Headingley.

“It always is anyway, but if England win then it could be a rocking Headingley. 

“It will be an interesting contest.”

Lancashire have won five of their seven games so far and sit top of the North Group, though they were also beaten last time out at Durham on Sunday.

Rewind to last year’s Roses match at Headingley on June 1, which Yorkshire won by 15 runs. 

It is interesting to look at the scorecard of that night, particularly the Lancashire team which had Phil Salt, Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone and Tom Hartley in it. All of those are unavailable this time because of T20 World Cup duty with England in the West Indies.

In fact, seven of the Lightning’s team that night will not feature this year, including New Zealand overseas duo Daryl Mitchell and Colin de Grandhomme. They have been replaced by Kiwi batter Tom Bruce and Australian spin-bowling all-rounder Chris Green.

Dom Bess

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com. Dom Bess after dismissing Jos Buttler in last year’s Roses win at Headingley. Dawid Malan joins in the celebrations. 

“They have a different looking team to what you’d expect from the last couple of years,” said Root. “We’ll have to make sure that we’re ready for that. But it’s the same with us.

“When you play these derby games, form sort of goes out of the window. 

“Everyone in our dressing room is looking forward to it, I’m sure it’s the same for them as well. 

“It will be a great game.”

Last Friday night at Birmingham, Root played his 50th T20 match for Yorkshire – 13 years after his first in June 2011. 

In that time, he has only been on the winning side twice in Roses matches. 

Joe Root

Picture by David Rogers/Getty Images. Joe Root en-route to 35 in victory over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road at the start of the month. 

“I reckon I’ve pretty much batted in every position in those 50 games as well!” he smiled. 

“It’s been an experience having to manage different situations and almost being the guy – at times – who has been pushed down when we need to get on with it. 

“But you evolve as a player and find different ways to do it. 

“It’s always difficult when you don’t get blocks and chunks of time to play in this format because it’s one you can get real momentum in. Even so, it’s been great fun.”

In all cricket for Yorkshire this summer, Root has scored 576 runs in his 11 appearances, including two hundreds and two fifties – all those milestone innings coming in the Championship. 

In the Blast, he has posted scores of 13 not out, 3, 35, 14 not out, 39 and 30 added to a best of 2-20 with the ball. 

Joe Root

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Joe Root celebrates his century against Glamorgan in last month’s Championship draw at Headingley.

“It’s been really good coming back and playing,” he continued. “Over the last couple of years, there’s not been too many opportunities for me to do that.

“I’ve really enjoyed it, but it’s been a bit frustrating because I think we’ve played a lot better in the games I’ve been around for than our place in the Championship suggests.

“The four games we’ve drawn that I’ve been involved in, we were hammering the opposition in them all. If we don’t get any weather, you’re realistically looking at four wins and a couple of losses. Then the table looks completely different. 

“That being said, there’s still so many games left and there’s no reason why we can’t turn it around and find ourselves right up at the top come the back end of the season.”

Last Wednesday, Root was awarded his MBE for services to cricket by the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle.

“It was a cool experience,” he added. “I think it’s been five years since they announced it. 

Joe Root receives MBE

Picture by Andrew Matthews. WPA Pool/Getty Images. Joe Root collects his MBE at Windsor Castle last week.

“It was nice to be able to find time in the calendar to get down there and accept it. It was a special day and something I never thought would happen to me – a lad from Sheffield who plays cricket.”

If he contributes to beating Lancashire tomorrow, Yorkshire fans will be starting a petition to Knight him! 

Meanwhile, Ottis Gibson says he is looking forward to facing his close mate, Dale Benkenstein, Lancashire’s coach.

The pair have faced each other over the last couple of years when Yorkshire have faced Gloucestershire in the County Championship, but there is more spice added to this one given it’s a Roses fixture.

Gibson and Benkenstein played together at Durham and worked together in South Africa’s coaching set-up when the former was the country’s head coach. 

Gibson added: “Benky and I have known each other for, I’d imagine, the best part of 30 years. He’s doing a great job at Lancashire, and I’m very pleased for him and proud of him for that.

Ottis Gibson

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Ottis Gibson is determined to get one over on his good mate Dale Benkenstein. 

“I still want to get one over him on Thursday. 

“But, whatever happens, we will still sit down and have a drink. The outcome of that game isn’t going to affect our friendship.

“Everybody looks forward to the Roses match, and there’s going to be a bit extra on it for me and him.”

Related News

View all news

YCCC recognised at LimeLight Awards 2024

Yorkshire County Cricket Club has been recognised for their outstanding safeguarding practices in the LimeLight Awards.

Read more
Malan

Preview: Yorkshire v Nottinghamshire, Vitality Blast

Yorkshire must embrace and enjoy the occasion tomorrow night as the Vikings face Nottinghamshire at Headingley in a must win Vitality Blast fixture (7pm). 

Read more

YCCC celebrates Performance Pathway during T20 at Headingley

Inspirational young people from across Yorkshire’s Performance Pathway were celebrated during a special night at Headingley Cricket Ground.

Read more
An image of Lauren Winfield-Hill and Adil Rashid, with the Yorkshire logo and Northern Diamonds logo in the middle

Sign up to our newsletter

For all the latest news, previews, ticket, membership and Premium Experiences information and more exciting content from Yorkshire Cricket and the Northern Diamonds straight to your inbox, subscribe now.

To view our privacy policy, click here.