Root eyes big finish after poor start to the year
Joe Root intends to see off 2018 in style after banishing memories of a bruising start to the year.
With the third Test against Sri Lanka beginning in Colombo today, Root’s side know victory would make them just the third England team in history to complete an overseas whitewash in a series of three or more matches.
To do so against hosts who have only ever lost 3-0 in their own conditions twice, against Australia and India sides ranked number one in the world, would make it all the sweeter. More satisfying than any statistical landmarks, though, is the scale of the revival over the past 12 months.
England began the year by being swept away in Sydney, where Root and company were condemned to an innings defeat and a sorry 4-0 scoreline.
The England captain had it even worse than his teammates - laid low and briefly hospitalised by a severe bout of gastroenteritis as Australia reclaimed the urn.
The next Test match saw England skittled for 58 by New Zealand in March and left asking searching questions about their future following another innings defeat.
Now, after three defeats and a draw in their first four Tests of 2018, England are looking to sign off with their ninth win out of 10.
“Thanks for reminding me of that,” said Root, when invited to cast his mind back to the dark days at the SCG.
“It’s been quite a journey for the group of players, the Test team. We did start the year in difficult circumstances and weren’t playing our best cricket but we’ve found a way to get to a really strong position.
“There’s been a few changes along the way but as a group we’ve found a way we want to go about things. It’s been really pleasing that everyone has bought into that and given us a great opportunity to hopefully win this series 3-0.
“That would be massive for this team.”
Stuart Broad has been recalled to replace long-term partner James Anderson.
“I’m very aware how talented our two senior guys are,” said Root.
“We generally get very excited about wishing people retirement and I think with those two in particular we have to make the most of them while we can.
“We need to be smart about managing them and see how long they can go for but they both look on top of their game at the moment.”