England look to ‘positive’ Root against South Africa
A new England era will start when Joe Root captains the Test side against South Africa at Lord’s today. Root was appointed in February after Alastair Cook, still in the team purely as an opening batsman, stood down but this week’s match will be England’s first Test since the change of skipper.
England will hope the captaincy drives the 26-year-old Yorkshireman on to even greater heights as it has done for two fellow star batsmen-Australia’s Steve Smith and India’s Virat Kohli.
“The way Rooty goes about his cricket, he’s nice and positive the way he bats, I suspect the way he will captain the team will be similar,” said England’s Australian coach Trevor Bayliss last week.
South Africa ended the Test captaincy of several England skippers in Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss. A similar fate, however, is unlikely to befall Root, whatever the outcome of a fourmatch series, ahead of this year’s Ashes campaign in Australia.
The immediate task for Root is to return England to winning ways in Tests after eight defeats in a 2016 that ended with a 40 series loss in India. Root’s county colleague Gary Ballance has forced his way back into the side after piling on the runs for Yorkshire even though his last six Test innings have yielded just 49 runs in total.
Meanwhile Keaton Jennings, who attended the same Johannesburg school as South Africa wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock, is set to open alongside Cook-who has been scoring heavily for Essex this season-against the country of his birth.
With veteran new ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad fit to lead an attack featuring Durham quick Mark Wood, England must decide whether to hand a debut to another paceman in Toby RolandJones, who would be playing on his Middlesex home ground, or give Liam Dawson a first Test on home soil following the Hampshire left-arm spinner’s promising start in Chennai in December.
South Africa boast a remarkable record of having lost only one away Test series in 10 years. They have been without AB de Villiers in Test cricket for more than 12 months and the talented batsman will miss the whole of this series as he considers his international future.
South Africa too will have a new captain in Dean Elgar but regular skipper Faf du Plessis is expected back for the second Test at Nottingham following the birth of his first child. “He is a gutsy player,” South Africa coach Russell Domingo said of opening batsman Elgar.
“He epitomises South African cricket to the tee.” The Proteas had a difficult start to this tour, losing to England in both one-day and Twenty20 series either side of a firstround exit at the Champions Trophy.—AFP
LONDON: England’s cricket captain Joe Root, right, and South Africa’s captain Dean Elgar pose with trophies during the photocall at Lord’s, cricket ground in London yesterday. England will play against South Africa in the first cricket Test match of the current series at Lord’s starting today. — AP