ECB have announced Root is available to play the first-two rounds. © Getty
England captain Joe Root will square off against Stuart Broad in the first round of the County Championship when Nottinghamshire host Yorkshire on April 5 in Division One.
It was thought that Root (Yorkshire) would rest for the start of the season after playing the entirety of the West Indies tour which consisted of five Tests, four ODIs and three T20Is. However the ECB have announced he is available to play the first two rounds of the competition – the second match against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl – along Broad (Nottinghamshire), who will also captain an MCC XI against defending champions Surrey in Abu Dhabi.
The Royal London One-Day Cup, England’s domestic 50-over competition, starts after these opening two rounds but a decision on Root’s participation between April 17 and 26 will be made closer to the time, subject to his workload ahead of a huge summer of international cricket.
Root’s county teammate, Adil Rashid, will sit out the first two matches as he recovers from a shoulder injury, but should be fine to play in the One-Day Cup. His fellow Test spinner, left-arm orthodox Jack Leach will start his campaign with Somerset’s opener against Kent.
White-ball captain Eoin Morgan will also be available from the get-go for Middlesex, alongside the county captain Dawid Malan. And while Mark Wood will start the season for Durham, against Derbyshire, he will be monitored closely by the medical staff at the club and the England management to determine if he is to play the second fixture, at home to Sussex. He will then play two 50-over matches, against Northamptonshire and Worcestershire, with a week’s rest in between.
James Anderson will sit out the opening round for Lancashire before taking his place in the XI against Middlesex at Lord’s on April 11, while Keaton Jennings is free to play all cricket for Lancashire as he makes a bid to at least maintain his place in the squad for the upcoming Tests against Ireland and Australia.
A staggered start means defending champions Surrey have the opening week off, allowing Rory Burns, Ben Foakes and Tom Curran to return to action straight away. The trio will also be available for the four-day exhibition match against MCC, which takes place in Dubai on March 24. Liam Plunkett and Jason Roy will be available once they recover from foot and hamstring injuries, respectively.
There is also good news for Warwickshire’s pace bowling department with Chris Woakes recovering well from issues with his right knee and Olly Stone on course for the start of the season as he recovers from a stress fracture of the lower back which saw him return home from the Caribbean during the Test series. Both should be fit to play the Bears’ opening match on April 11 against Kent.
Eight players involved in the recent West Indies tour will miss the start of the English summer to participate in the IPL. Those involved – Moeen Ali (Royal Challenges Bangalore), Jonny Bairstow (Sunrisers Hyderabad), David Willey, Sam Billings (both Chennai Super Kings), Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sam Curran (all Rajasthan Royals) – and subsequently selected for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup squad, along with the Ireland and Pakistan ODIs, are expected to return to the UK by April 25.