HAMPSHIRE are up against a Yorkshire side including Joe Root in his first first-class match since being unveiled as England captain.
Root, who was named as Alastair Cook’s replacement in February, will be playing his first Specsavers County Championship match since scoring 213, from only 242 balls, against Surrey at Headingley last May.
That was Root’s third double century in his last 15 Championship matches, dating back to his then career-best 222 not out against Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl in July 2012.
It contributed to a record Yorkshire fourth-wicket partnership of 372 with Jonny Bairstow, who is also set to play his first Championship match since then against Hampshire.
Root has a career record of 2,657 Championship runs at 48.3 but 982 of those have been scored at an average of 81.83 in the eight first-class matches he has played for Yorkshire since making his Test debut in December 2012.
He has made 4,594 runs at 52.8 in 53 Tests and is currently ranked the world’s third-best batsman behind Australia’s Steven Smith and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson.
The 26 year-old is determined to take his game to another level as England captain and has batted impressively in his last two innings, making an unbeaten 90 and 101 as Eoin Morgan’ s ODI side clinched a 3-0 win against the West Indies last month.
Root, who was bowled by Dimi Mascarenhas for seven as Hampshire won the 2012 T20 final, will be playing his fourth Championship match against Hampshire.
Opening the batting during a rain-affected draw in Leeds a year later, he was caught by Liam Dawson off David Balcombe for eight.
But there was no stopping him in a division two encounter at The Ageas Bowl five years ago, albeit in another rain-affected draw.
After a first-day washout, he saw wickets clatter at the other end as Yorkshire were reduced to 108-6 by Kabir Ali, James Tomlinson and Mascarenhas.
But Root’s unbeaten 222, from only 270 balls, (26 fours, three sixes) guided Yorkshire to 350-9 midway through a season they ended with promotion.
He will be up against a stronger Hampshire attack this time.
Kyle Abbott will be aiming for a repeat of his dismissals of Root in the first Test of the 2015/16 series between South Africa and England in Durban, when he had him caught at first slip for 73, and in the second match of the ODI series that followed, when he bowled him for 38.
Bairstow has also been made available by the ECB for the big clash at The Ageas Bowl and not before time according to Andrew Gale, Yorkshire’s head coach.
“I can see why someone like Rooty would want a rest given the amount of cricket he’s played,” Gale told cricinfo.com.
“But Jonny has played one one-day international since Christmas. I think he’s played three days of cricket.
“For me, he should have been available right from the first game of the season. He had enough time off from the end of the West Indies trip. I felt he should have been available.”
Yorkshire also have England leg-spinner Adil Rashid available.
They will again be without injured seamers Jack Brooks, Liam Plunkett and Ryan Sidebottom.
But David Willey is available again and Ben Coad could become the first Yorkshire bowler since Peter Hartley in 1995 to take at least five wickets in an innings in the first three Championship matches of a season.
The 23 year-old followed his 6-37 in the four-wicket defeat against Hampshire with 5-52 and 5-50 in an innings victory over Warwickshire last week.
Yorkshire have named the following 13-man squad: Gary Ballance (c), Jonny Bairstow (w), Tim Bresnan, Ben Coad, Matthew Fisher, Peter Handscomb, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Steven Patterson, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, David Willey