Root rel­ish­ing dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions af­ter Eng­land’s win

Sunderland Echo - - Racing -

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 post-match 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. We’ve some dif­fi­cult se­lec­tions ahead which I’m not com­plain­ing about. I’m go­ing to en­joy that meet­ing.

“It is go­ing to be tough, but that’s what you want. You want guys per­form­ing and to make those tough calls. Whether that’s leav­ing peo­ple out, keep­ing the same team, shuf­fling the pack slightly, we’ll have to wait and see.”

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 would stand aside will­ingly if a fit-again Bairstow was pre­ferred.

The very idea of bench­ing a man who played the Sri Lankan con­di­tions with such poise and has the po­ten­tial to be a world beater be­hind the stumps might ap­pear friv­o­lous from the out­side, but hav­ing joined the trip as in­jury cover he is mak­ing no de­mands.

“Jonny, I think, will po­ten­tially be fit so I guess he’s the num­ber one,” said the Sur­rey man.

“If I (only) play one game, I’m quite happy with that one. To be hon­est if you asked me two weeks ago I was hav­ing six months off so just to be sat here now is un­be­liev­able.

“The big thing for me is just mak­ing my de­but, be­ing able to say you’re an Eng­land Test crick­eter. Re­gard­less of what’s hap­pened that’s such a spe­cial feel­ing that no one can take away.”

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.

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