Glamorgan all-rounder Billy Root has revealed his burning desire to don the England shirt is a huge motivator for him ahead of the season curtain-raiser against Yorkshire.
The Welsh outfit kick-off their 2021 County Championship campaign against Yorkshire, Root’s home county, on Thursday, in which Billy will face his older brother and England Test captain Joe.
Root speaks with immense pride of his brother’s achievements. Joe is widely recognised as one of the best batsmen in the world and passed that 100-Test landmark against India back in February.
But Billy, 28, has a long-held desire to force his way into the England reckoning and hopes this season can be one in which he can make his mark and force selectors to take a look at him.
“Every cricketer should have a long-term goal of playing for England, which I do,” Root tells Gist Vile.
“If I didn’t, there probably wouldn’t be much point playing the game, if I wasn’t striving to get to that level.
“In terms of Glamorgan, I would play the rest of my career at Glamorgan, if the opportunity came, I love it. I can’t see myself playing for anyone else.
“As a cricketer, if you are always trying to get better, we have seen how quickly that step (up to England) can happen for people. If you are constantly working hard and trying to get there, you are giving yourself a much better chance than someone who hasn’t got that on their radar.
“For me, that is a big driver.”
His season kicks off in earnest this week and he will no doubt want to hit the ground running if he is to stride out alongside his brother for England one day.
On Thursday, though, he will be walking out on the opposite team up at Headingley.
Billy has never beaten Joe in three attempts, the last of which came in 2017, a Royal London One-Day game in which his elder brother guided Yorkshire to victory against Nottinghamshire, who the Glamorgan man was playing for at the time.
Given Joe’s England commitments and the nature of lockdowns in England and Wales, Billy, on a human level, is just excited to see his brother again, having not been with him since September.
But that is where the niceties end. Billy, having grown up a Yorkshire fan, is Glamorgan through and through now and while he wishes his brother well, he is determined to kick-off the season in winning fashion.
“People will get excited about that (Billy playing against Joe), but ultimately it’s Glamorgan against Yorkshire,” he added.
“Yes, we have got the same surname, but it is two professional cricketers that are going to be turning up against each other.
“We always both want each other to do well. But in that situation, I won’t want him to do too well! It’ll be chatty, but very friendly. It’ll be just good to see him, more than anything.
“Going back to Headingley will be quite special for me, I haven’t been back there in a while. To have him playing will be great.
“September was the last time I seen him. The way it’s fallen, lockdowns in Wales and then England, vice-versa, I’ve not really had chance to see any of my family.
“So, to see Joe this week will be nice.”
Although Billy admits his brother is “not the greatest with technology”, he says Joe is now better at being able to stream the games online and tries to follow his progress at Glamorgan when he can.
He will obviously get a closer watching brief this week and Glamorgan will hope Joe gets to see a lot of Billy, who is now an important figure within the Welsh county’s squad.
He had a stunning debut season with the bat two years ago and after scoring a half-century against Somerset in a friendly last weekend, the all-rounder, who has been cleared to bowl again this season after his action was deemed legal, wants to be central to a push for silverware this term.
Many Glamorgan fans’ lasting memory of success came when they last won the County Championship in 1997, before trophies followed in the white-ball competitions in 2002 and 2004.
It has been a barren intervening 17 years for the Sophia Gardens outfit, though, but Root says there is no reason Glamorgan cannot put that right this season.
“The history of the club, it’s something we have touched on as a squad this winter,” Root added. “Respecting the traditions and really trying to get that back.
“I’ve spoken about with a few of the guys, I really want to win some silverware. That is something that, as a squad, we are striving for. You’ve got to because there is no better feeling than winning a trophy.
“The work the guys have put in this winter and how we’ve started so far (in pre-season), I certainly can’t see a reason why we cannot push for some sort of success in the next couple of years.
“I’d love nothing more than that. Delivering some success for Glamorgan fans in our 100th year as a county would be a script and a half. You couldn’t write that.”
Glamorgan take on Yorkshire in the first day of the County Championship at 11am on Thursday, April 8 at Emerald Headingley.