Run of losses on for­eign soil fi­nally halted

The Chronicle - - Rugby Union: Newcastle Falcons 22 Bath 7 -

ENG­LAND cap­tain Joe Root is rel­ish­ing the prospect of a dif­fi­cult se­lec­tion meet­ing af­ter the Test team recorded their first over­seas vic­tory for more than two years.

Root’s side fi­nally halted a 13-game win­less streak on for­eign soil with a com­mand­ing 211-run de­feat of Sri Lanka at Galle, em­phat­i­cally re­vers­ing ex­pec­ta­tions at a venue where the home side typ­i­cally thrive.

As skip­per, Root was buoyed by the col­lec­tive ef­fort over four days by the In­dian Ocean. Debu­tant wick­et­keeper Ben Foakes was named man of the match for his cru­cial cen­tury and tidy glove­work, but Keaton Jen­nings’ metic­u­lous 146 not out in the sec­ond in­nings and Moeen Ali’s best match fig­ures on the road, eight for 137, were equally in­dis­pens­able.

Sam Cur­ran and Jack Leach also made note­wor­thy con­tri­bu­tions, leav­ing Root to bal­ance post­match cel­e­bra­tion with con­sid­er­a­tions for next week’s clash in Kandy.

Jonny Bairstow, the es­tab­lished keeper, is ex­pected to be fit from an­kle trou­ble by then and 123-cap pace­man Stu­art Broad, dropped here for the first time in six years, will be an­gling for a re­call if the pitch of­fers en­cour­age­ment.

“It’s a re­ally spe­cial feel­ing and it’s ob­vi­ously great to see guys come into the team and re­ally take their op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Root af­ter Sri Lanka were dis­missed for 250.

“The way we played through­out the four days, with ev­ery­one con­tribut­ing and play­ing a part is re­ally pleas­ing.

“It’s great to see the strength in depth in this squad of play­ers.”

There was a gen­tle re­minder too, that egos will not be mas­saged.

“It’s about per­form­ing as a group, not mak­ing it about your­self, be­ing in­volved in the XI,” he said. “The real achieve­ment is to be part of this squad and to hope­fully go on to win this tour.”

Foakes sug­gested he would be ready to buy into that ethic, even hint­ing he’d stand aside will­ingly if a fit-again Bairstow was pre­ferred.

What­ever so­lu­tions Root and head coach Trevor Bayliss come up with in the com­ing days they will be hop­ing they lead to a rare se­ries vic­tory on the road. Since beat­ing South Africa on the road in 2015/16 there have been failed at­tempts in Bangladesh, In­dia, Aus­tralia and New Zea­land.

“It’s not just us, like we’re the only side that strug­gles away from home, it’s across the board in Test cricket,” Root said.

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