England have a clear plan how to become No1 in world, says captain
Joe Root challenged his players to build on their first away Test win for two years and use it as a launch pad to fulfil their ultimate ambition to be the best team in the world.
Such an ambition is a long way from being fulfilled but the 211-run victory was Root’s first as captain overseas and ends a winless sequence of 14 matches stretching back to October 2016 when England beat Bangladesh in Chittagong. They have since lost 4-0 in India and Australia, as well as losing a two-test series in New Zealand.
Only four members of this team played in the Chittagong Test and the presence of new faces such as Ben Foakes and Jack Leach, who took five wickets in his second Test, as well as the continued success of Sam Curran, gives Root great hope for the future.
“This is very special and I thought we played some really good stuff. It was great to see guys coming into the team and taking their opportunity. We played in a collective way, everyone contributed. I said for a long time we were going to do things differently and
we have backed that up. Over the last eight months or so we have found something. We have a real clear plan about how we want to get to be the No1 side in the world.
“We have grown throughout the summer and this is another step. We have so much more hard work to do but to see so many talented players in the XI, or the squad, and the different options we can go with is credit to the group.”
This was England’s first win in Galle, and Sri Lanka leave for Kandy demoralised and weakened by the retirement of Herath and injury to captain Dinesh Chandimal, who has a grade one groin tear.
Root will not care. Next week he can win a series in Sri Lanka, but first he will have to sit in on a difficult selection meeting. Foakes is undroppable after being named man of the match on his debut, leaving Jonny Bairstow fretting on a recall. He has accepted he will not be keeping wicket and must hope a space will open up in the middle order. He could come in for one of the spinners but they have just shared 16 wickets in the match, the best by an England attack since 1958.
“I am going to enjoy that difficult meeting,” said Root. “It is going to be tough but that is what you want; guys performing.”