Eng­land cap­tain Root calls for brave ap­proach

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - SPORT - RORY DOL­LARD SPORTS RE­PORTER ■ Email: yp.sport@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @YPS­port

ENG­LAND cap­tain Joe Root has called on Eng­land to play bold, brave cricket against Sri Lanka in a bid to end to their tour­ing tra­vails.

The last time Eng­land’s Test side won a match over­seas was against Bangladesh in Oc­to­ber 2016 and since Root took the helm from Alastair Cook life on the road has been par­tic­u­larly chas­ten­ing.

In seven games in Aus­tralia and New Zealand there have been two draws and five de­feats – three by an in­nings, one by 120 runs and an­other by 10 wick­ets.

Some­thing has to change if the se­quence is to be halted in Galle, a fact Root is keen to face up to.

“We’re due aren’t we?” he said with a smile.

“We have to be bold. We have to try things slightly dif­fer­ently. We have to be ad­ven­tur­ous, show a bit of courage, come here and maybe take the odd risk that we haven’t done be­fore if we are go­ing to give our­selves a good chance of win­ning.

“I’m not scared of do­ing that. This group of play­ers are not scared of do­ing that. We’ve had a dis­ap­point­ing cou­ple of win­ters now but we’ve given our­selves a really good chance this time round.

“I’m not go­ing to stand here and prom­ise the world but I do feel we are a team on an up­ward curve.”

Part of un­lock­ing a team’s more ex­pres­sive el­e­ments, of course, in­volves care­ful man man­age­ment. It is no good invit­ing a player to break the mould and then blam­ing them for the cracks.

Eng­land’s han­dling of spin bowl­ing – how they bat against and how they use their own re­sources – is likely to be a defin­ing fac­tor and Root is willing to give as much lee­way as pos­si­ble, pro­vid­ing there is a clear plan.

“We are not scared of these sur­faces, we are not scared of it spin­ning,” he said.

“You give guys free­dom but with free­dom comes re­spon­si­bil­ity. Peo­ple will get it wrong, you can ac­cept that. It is when there is not a lot of thought be­hind it (that there is a prob­lem).

“More than any­thing it is about re­spon­si­bil­ity for the rest of the guys in the group.”

Courage can also mean more than ven­tur­ing down the track to a slow bowler or keep­ing an ex­tra catcher in when a ses­sion is drift­ing away. It can be shown in se­lec­tion as well.

Eng­land have been open about the fact they have con­sid­ered sev­eral per­mu­ta­tions for the se­ries opener, with un­cer­tainty over the No 3 slot, Jos But­tler and Ben Foakes vy­ing for the in­jured Jon- ny Bairstow’s wick­et­keep­ing du­ties and an un­cer­tain hi­er­ar­chy of seam bowlers.

Stu­art Broad could miss out if Eng­land choose to in­clude all three of their spin­ners – Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and Jack Leach – mean­ing he will be dropped for the first time in six years and sec­ond time in a decade.

Sit­ting out the coun­try’s sec­ond high­est-wicket taker in his­tory is far from the safe op­tion, but Root ap­pears tempted by the gam­ble.

“It is al­ways hard to leave out some­one who has taken over 430 wick­ets. For Stu­art it wouldn’t so much be a case of be­ing dropped. It would be for the bal­ance of the team.

“The group is fully aware that for the team to win over here it is not go­ing to be 11 guys go­ing out and win­ning three Test matches it is go­ing to be a squad per­for­mance.

“I think that it is really cru­cial that all the guys are pulling to­gether to­wards one com­mon goal rather than hav­ing the in­di­vid­ual fo­cus of play­ing in ev­ery game them­selves. You can see that by the way we go about things.”

South Africa eased to a sixwicket vic­tory over Aus­tralia with more than 20 overs to spare in the first one-day in­ter­na­tional at Perth.

It was the sev­enth straight ODI de­feat for the hosts and a 17th in their last 19 one-day­ers.

I’m not go­ing to stand here and prom­ise the world... Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root ahead of Test se­ries with Sri Lanka.

PIC­TURE: JAMES HARDISTY.

TEST­ING TIMES: Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root leads his team into bat­tle to­mor­row in their Test se­ries against Sri Lanka.

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