Root eyes big fin­ish af­ter poor start to the year

Sunderland Echo - - Racing -

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.”

Joe Root.

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