Root & branch changes

SKIP­PER ON SONG AF­TER COOK ERA

Daily Star Sunday - - PUZZLE ACTOR - ■ from DEAN WIL­SON in Galle

JOE ROOT will call the shots over team se­lec­tion in Kandy af­ter show­ing that he has stepped out of Alas­tair Cook’s shadow to take full con­trol of the Eng­land team.

A first over­seas win – by 211 runs – for cap­tain Root came in the first game since Cook’s re­tire­ment and was done with­out the ex­pe­ri­ence of Stu­art Broad and Jonny Bairstow too.

And a fresher-look­ing side was happy to fol­low Root’s in­struc­tions to a tee as they charged at the Sri Lankans first up be­fore beat­ing them at their own game with high-quality spin.

It was a tri­umph for Root’s tac­ti­cal ap­proach as well as his man man­age­ment to get the best out of his play­ers and coach Trevor Bayliss (right) reck­ons that the skip­per is the one who will be mak­ing the tough calls for the sec­ond Test with a po­ten­tial reshuf­fle to come.

“I hope this is a break­through mo­ment for Joe,” said Bayliss.

“But what I would say al­ready on this tour is it is look­ing very much like this is the be­gin­nings of Joe Root’s team.

“There are some new, younger play­ers com­ing into the team and around the squad and it just has that feel about it that this can be the be­gin­nings of a bet­ter time. Cooky played a very im­por­tant role and it was great to have him around. It is just nat­u­ral when there is some­one around like that it may in­hibit the new cap­tain. “But ev­ery­one has to stop at some time and it just seems al­ready on this tour it feels like there is a slight change.

“Joe and I will have good dis­cus­sions about the team for the next Test, what we might think. But in the end it’s the cap­tain’s call. It’s the play­ers’ game. The cap­tain runs the show and the coaches are here to help where pos­si­ble.”

And Root will have a few things to fig­ure out, such as whether Bairstow is fully fit to play, and if he is how does he squeeze back into the team, most likely as a spe­cial­ist bats­man af­ter Ben Foakes’ dis­play. Will they need three spin­ners? Could Chris Woakes or Broad be a bet­ter bet than Adil Rashid or Jack Leach? Bayliss couldn’t re­veal too much but added: “I’m not go­ing to make any ex­cuses for some of th­ese younger play­ers putting pressure on guys in the team.

“Long term that is what Eng­land wants. If play­ers aren’t happy they might find them­selves out be­cause they are not scor­ing runs and taking wick­ets. That is a fact of life at this level.”

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