'When I bat well everything feels rhythmical and that's what I'm trying to find': Joe Root turns to club coach in attempt to rediscover form ahead of two-Test tour of New Zealand
Joe Root has turned to a club coach and lifelong friend in his quest to rediscover his batting touch post-Ashes.
Taking advantage of a rare tranch of time off since his England team finished the home international season with the 2-2 Test series draw with Australia, the 28-year-old enjoyed a family holiday in Greece before putting his pads on again.
Root has been netting with Josh Varley, captain and coach of Sheffield Collegiate, the club where he says 'from being 12 and 13 years old, we threw balls at each other all day long.' This past fortnight the throwing has been done exclusively by Varley.
Joe Root is training with friend Josh Varley before England's November tour of New Zealand
The pair began with a couple of sessions at Collegiate's Abbeydale Park home and also took in an indoor session at Denstone College, where Root's ex-Yorkshire team-mate Simon Guy is head of cricket.
'I do some brilliant work with Graham Thorpe, and guys like Mark Ramprakash when he was involved. But every now and again it's quite nice to go to other people and for someone like Josh an opportunity to help me will hopefully help him as a young coach,' Root said.
Despite hitting four 50s, Root managed just 325 runs in five matches against the Australians, a poor return by his high standards and part of a longer-term decline which has seen his Test average plummet from 52.8 when he took over the captaincy in the summer of 2017 to under 48, its lowest point for more than five years.
Chris Silverwood will oversee his first Test as England coach in Tauranga next month
ROOT'S TEST CAREER
Highest score: 254
Implementing changes to stance and technique would have been nigh-on impossible in the heat of that battle, which concluded a three-and-a-half month period also including a World Cup-winning campaign and a Test match versus Ireland.
But he is hopeful the work away from the international spotlight will come to fruition on the two-Test tour of New Zealand next month.
'I've just been lining things up slightly differently, to get a rhythm back into my batting without it affecting my balance, if you like,' he revealed.
Root's Test average has plummeted from 52.8 in the summer of 2017 to under 48
'I felt sometimes I was getting a little bit too offside of the ball and then as though I was trying to fight that. When I bat well everything feels very rhythmical and that's what I am trying to find. Also if I am better aligned, I can access everywhere on the field a lot easier.
'Four years ago is the last time I had a break as long as this and that was because I broke my thumb. So to have a block and a chance to spend some time working at certain technical things without the pressure of a game around the corner is invaluable, really.
'You have to take these pockets of time as an opportunity to improve yourself.'