Root & branch changes
SKIPPER ON SONG AFTER COOK ERA
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.”