Cape Town - England Test captain Joe Root has linked up with a boyhood friend in a bid rediscover his best batting form.
Root has been handed an extended break from international duties
after an exhausting schedule and has been rested from the upcoming T20I
series in New Zealand before returning to lead the Test side against the
He has been using his time to tinker with his game, having managed only one Test century in 18 innings in 2019.
There is no shortage of high-pedigree help available in the England
or Yorkshire set-ups but Root has instead sought out an old associate at
his family's local team.
"I've done three sessions and used the head coach at Sheffield
Collegiate. He's called Josh Varley and he's younger than me," said
"From the age of 12 or 13 we've thrown balls at each other, all day every day down at Abbeydale.
"We've been doing a bit of work together, not much technical stuff but he’s been doing a lot of flinging.
"We've also been down to Denstone College to use the facilities
there, where (former Yorkshire wicketkeeper) Simon Guy is head of
cricket. Starting out he was a bit of a mentor to me and he knows my
game like the back of his hand.
"I wanted to work on a few things so it's been good to get back into
it. I want to start the winter with a bang and set a marker in terms of
making big scores and leading from the front."
Root added: "I'm throwing ideas around, using people outside of the
bubble. Getting different points of view and different ways of looking
at things is nice.
"I do brilliant work with (England batting coach) Graham Thorpe but
every now and again when you're out of it, it's quite nice to go to
"I think four years ago was the last time I had a break this long and that's because I broke a thumb.
"So to have a break, working on things without the pressure of a game in a week's time is invaluable."
Despite appreciating the chance to take a step off the treadmill,
Root realises his absence for the next five matches represents a risk.
While still the fulcrum of the five-day side, he is no longer a
guaranteed selection for the sprint format with a year to go to the next
T20 World Cup.
He was England's top-scorer when they finished runners-up in the 2016
World T20 but with plenty of talent coming up underneath, the
competition for places in heating up.
- TeamTalk Media