Yorkshire star and Test captain Joe Root insists diversity is and will continue to be a “massive driving force” within the England set-up.

With anti-racism a major topic for discussion around the world at present, especially given recent events in America with the death of George Floyd, Root was speaking as part of an England media call earlier today.

Both England’s Test and limited overs teams currently include players from a number of different backgrounds, Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid being one. Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer are just two others.

“Being truthful, it’s a very difficult thing to talk about because it shouldn’t be part of the world we live in right now,” said Root.

“This shouldn’t be a question asked of anyone really.

“That’s one thing that’s a massive driving force for our team – the diversity of the side is a big part of our culture. It’s a big thing in our future, and it’s something that we hold very dear.

“It’s been a big part of our successes as a team, on the field and off it.”

Root returned to the nets on Monday as one of six Yorkshire players part of England 55-strong ‘back to training’ squad.

Jonny Bairstow, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Dawid Malan, Rashid and David Willey have all been asked by the selectors to prepare themselves in case called upon for proposed red and white ball summer series against the West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and Australia.

The plan is to begin with a behind closed doors Test Match against the Windies on July 8 at the Ageas Bowl as long as the fight against Coronavirus continues in the right direction. The second and third Tests will be played at Emirates Old Trafford on July 16 and 24 respectively.

Root will actually be training at Trent Bridge given that ground is closer to his Sheffield home than Emerald Headingley is. So, instead of working with Andrew Gale, he will be working with his former England coach Peter Moores, who is currently in charge of Nottinghamshire.

“It was really nice to get back training,” he said.

“It was pretty straightforward, actually. There are obviously a lot of protocols put in place, but it wasn’t too dissimilar to how you would normally go about a net session.

“I was a bit rusty in a few aspects. To start with, everything seemed a million miles an hour. Slowly, as a few hours went on, it seemed to come back to me. By the end of it, I felt really good. It was really nice to enjoy batting again.

“I think a lot of players will have found positives from having a period of time away from cricket and feel refreshed and energised coming back into it.

“For me, having played almost consistently for such a long period of time and some quite high-pressured cricket in the last couple of years in particular, to get a chance to get away, I definitely feel that will benefit me moving forward into this next phase.”

Root went on: “Logistically, from where I live, it’s closer and easier to get to Trent Bridge than it is to Headingley.

“I obviously spent a good couple of years working with Pete on my batting, and you could argue that some of my best years batting-wise were whilst he was in charge (for a second spell in 2014 and 2015). It has been nice to touch base with him again.”

Root’s wife Carrie is due to give birth to their second child at the start of July, which will potentially throw up challenges surrounding his involvement in bio-secure environments (or the bubble, as they are also being referred to) which have to be created at venues in order for cricket to resume.

If necessary, though, Root confirmed family will be prioritised and he would miss a Test to be present at the birth and would hand over the captaincy to his vice skipper Ben Stokes.

“In terms of the bubble and the pregnancy, it’s always an evolving thing. It’s being discussed currently with the medical team, and we’re always trying to stay up to date,” he said.

“How that will finally look, I’m not exactly sure right now, but it will have to come down to government advice. Whatever that is, we’ll follow those protocols and do whatever is right. Yes (I will definitely be present at the birth).”

Had we started a summer on time and Coronavirus free, this Thursday would have been the start of the first Test against the West Indies at the Kia Oval.

“This time of year in normal circumstances is extremely exciting,” said Root. “The build-up to the first Test is always very special. The week as a whole is something you look forward to, like Christmas really.

“It signifies a great couple of months of the year. International cricket at home, full houses all the time and brilliant atmospheres.

“That’s obviously going to change quite drastically.

“There’s still a huge amount of excitement. I think a lot of that comes down to having not played for a long period of time.

“It will be very different. It’s hard to know what to expect, it’s hard to know what it’ll feel like when we play in empty stadiums or what it’ll be like tossing up from one balcony to the other, or however that’ll look like.

“Media like this (Zoom call) might be quite strange for long periods of time after a day’s play.

“There’s a number of things that will be very strange and different, but I think most of the guys are just very excited to get back to playing.”

More and more live sport is starting to return around the world, and within the last week the National Rugby League competition in Australia returned behind closed doors but with crowd noise embedded into the TV coverage.

Is that something Root would like to see for England’s games, or potentially even some crowd noise coming through the in-ground speakers so players could hear it too?

“It depends if they’re saying I should be sacked in the morning! he laughed.

“But a few Barmy Army chants a couple of times a session would be nice. If we need a wicket or something, I’m sure the lads would appreciate that.”

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