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England are ‘on an upward curve’ – Joe Root

by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

England red-ball skipper Joe Root feels that England are on the right track after they ended a lean run in Test cricket by beating India 4-1 in their five-match series at home with a 118-run win in the final Test at The Oval on Tuesday, September 11.

“I think we are on an upward curve. I do think we’ve shown a lot of improvement this summer. When we’ve had tough days and tough games, we’ve responded to that. We are going to have some difficult challenges ahead,” Root said after the match.

The 27-year-old knows things will get tough, especially on the roadbut believes that his players will elevate their game to rise to the challenges. He said, “This winter is going to pose a lot of different challenges to playing in these conditions but that presents a great opportunity for us to show some growth as a team.”

Root, well aware of his team’s areas of improvement, is keen on ironing out the wrinkles ahead of England’s full tour of Sri Lanka in October-November 2018. The most crucial of them might be spotting the replacement for Alastair Cook, especially with Keaton Jennings not quite covering himself in glory against India.

Since the retirement of Andrew Stauss, Cook has opened England’s innings with more than 10 different partners, none of whom managed to cement their place at the top of the order. Jennings scored at an average of 18.11 in the latest series.

“Of course you want to maximise your runs at the top of the order. You want to get off to good starts. But we’ve made up for that in other areas,” countered Root. “We’ve been very smart down the order. Guys have stood up and taken that opportunity and made sure we got to totals to give us a chance of winning.

“It’s huge for the group. Having already won the series, it’s something we’ve got wrong in the past. The lads have delivered this week. They’ve been really outstanding in all departments.”

Root expressed satisfaction over the team effort displayed by his men and believes that this series victory is the right foundation for his side to kick on from.

“Everyone played a significant part and that’s what’s been really pleasing. Hopefully, now we can kick on. We are going to have different challenges in the winter. We know where we want to get to and that we are not the perfect side but if we can continue with the same drive and attitude, then we’ve got every chance of getting right to the top,” he said.

“For those two guys, who are two really close mates, they’re going to miss playing together”

Cook, who announced his retirement ahead of the final match, had a dream swansong – 71 and 147 in the two innings. It was a memorable victory for James Anderson as well, as he went past Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563 Test scalps to become the most prolific wicket-taker in Test cricket among fast bowlers.

“I said it was written in the stars and for it to turn out as it has, it’s fairytale stuff for Alastair to go out like that and Jimmy at the end. For those two guys, who are two really close mates, they’re going to miss playing together. It will be different with him not being there but it does create an opportunity for someone else now,” added Root.

“There have been a few times this week when I’ve asked if he’s sure. I’m just so pleased he can go out in real style. For it to finish how it has, is pretty special.”

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