Joe Root has been withdrawn from England’s T20 squad to play in the inaugural tri-series against Australia and New Zealand next month, as he prepares to make his IPL bow after being entered in the auction that takes place in Bangalore on January 27 and 28.
Root, who had initially declined the opportunity to sit out the tournament after a draining winter of international cricket, including captaining England to a 4-0 defeat in the Ashes, will instead return home for a break before resuming his place in the squad for the ODI series against New Zealand that gets underway on February 25.
Root, who is an automatic pick for England across all three formats, admitted his unease at missing out on international duty, especially given that his stated intention is to make his first foray into the IPL in April and May, at a time when he could instead be taking a break.
However, with England fully focussed on the 2019 World Cup, the opportunity for Root and his other white-ball team-mates to broaden their experience by taking part in the world’s foremost T20 league is considered a vital part of their development, and he made his decision after consultation with the head coach, Trevor Bayliss.
“I hate missing games of cricket for England,” Root said. “It is something that doesn’t really sit well with me either. It was a long, hard decision that me and Trevor had to come to.
“You look at the amount of cricket that we have got coming up and the opportunity that the IPL brings and you almost have to look at it as more of an investment for my game and for all the England team moving forward.
“If being involved in that block of cricket, with everything that tournament brings, is going to add more to my game for the next four or five years then missing a few games here might be worthwhile.”
Root has entered the IPL auction at the highest reserve price of 170,000, and could be one of a raft of prominent England players to be picked up by franchises for the first time this year.
However, he has never before played in an overseas league, and due to his England commitments, he has featured in just five T20 Blast matches since 2012. Part of his reasoning for wanting to remain a part of the England T20 squad was that he feared the shortest form of the game was evolving without him, but the financial allure of the IPL is a significant draw too.
“Of course, there is a money side to it, there is no point lying about it,” he said. “That is obviously a benefit of playing in the IPL but that is not why I went into the auction. I really believe playing a block of Twenty20 cricket with that scrutiny, being under pressure for long periods of time against the world’s players in that format would be a great opportunity to develop and learn my white-ball game.
“With the two major tournaments in white-ball cricket around the corner that is what going there is all about, to gain experience in the short form and work with other players around the world who have had a huge amount of exposure to Twenty20 cricket, and see some different coaches.”