Joe Root is back in a Yorkshire shirt this week, and the England Test captain has been talking about his love for the White Rose and the county game in general.
Root faces Kent at Emerald Headingley in the fifth round of the LV= Insurance County Championship summer, starting on Thursday.
It will be his fourth appearance of 2021 for Yorkshire as he builds up to the start of the international summer in early June when New Zealand are the visitors for a two-Test series.
Root is this week’s guest on the BBC Test Match Special’s County Cricket podcast, hosted by Kevin Howells, available via the BBC Sounds app amongst other places from today.
Root also spoke about his feelings when bowling to younger brother Billy as he got to a century during the opening round draw against Glamorgan at Headingley last month.
He said: “I’m a cricket tragic and love coming back to play for Yorkshire.
“Over the years, it’s changed a bit – the reasons why.
“More recently, becoming a bit more senior and not spending as much time with the squad, you get to see a change in the players and squad.
“In particular, over the past five years, the squad personnel has changed drastically at Yorkshire. There’s a lot of young players there now, and there’s a real opportunity to go and help in a small way.
“Obviously you’re not going to go in and tell people how to play the game. But if there are ways you can offer a bit of experience to those younger guys, I find that really rewarding. Hopefully they do too.
“But county cricket is the bedrock of our game in my opinion.
“It’s where you discover your next group of Test cricketers.
“It’s really important that all of the time we’re trying to make the standard as good as we can.
“When guys like myself come back from the international game, it’s our duty to not just help win as many games as we can through performances but also offer a bit in and around training with the wider squad to really help the game grow.
“I remember what it was like at the start of my career to have brilliant role models – Anthony McGrath to name just one – and how much that meant to me for them to spend time helping me.
“If I can offer something similar to someone else, it would be very rewarding.”
On his schedule prior to England’s first Test against the Kiwis at the start of June, Root confirmed: “I’m looking to play a couple more County Championship games ahead of the first Test Match.
“From that point on we’ll see where we are. I think you have to be quite fluid with times as they are.
“It’s just about trying to peak for those internationals.
“Of course these Championship games mean a lot to me – I want to perform as well as I can for Yorkshire. But, as England captain, it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m personally ready to hit those games hard in good form.
“If there are more opportunities to play Championship or T20 cricket through the summer, I will certainly try and do so.”
Root will play against Kent and then Glamorgan in Cardiff the following week. It will be Joe versus Billy mark two!
In the opening round, Billy scored a fine second-innings century at Headingley, achieved off Joe’s off-spin bowling.
He recalled: “I sort of looked at Steve Patterson and said, “I’m going to have to bowl aren’t I?” And he agreed.
“He (Billy) was on about 97, and he said, “If he’s not got to a hundred, you can take the next over that end.”
“It was a really strange feeling.
“Obviously I’m never going to compromise taking wickets and doing everything I can to win games for Yorkshire. But I honestly don’t know what I’d have done if I’d have hit him on the pad!
“I would have appealed, but it would have been a very strange feeling inside.”