Sri Lanka v England: Joe Root looking to lead from the front

Joe Root Joe Root’s last Test 100 took place against New Zealand in November 2019.

Place: Appointment room: 14.-18. January: 04:30 GMT
Cover: Test Match Special Commentary on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, Sounds and Sports. Live text commentary on sports and applications.

Captain Joe Root says he wants to lead his England team, which has changed a lot, in the first test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Thursday.

Root failed to make the Test hundred in 2020 and will have to do without Ben Stokes, Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes, Moen Ali and Jofra Archer.

You want to lead and make good tactical decisions, but you also want to score points, Root said.

I’ll keep an eye on it, starting with the first test.

Thirty years: My goal is to make sure I lead with the front bat.

It’s definitely a big driver for me this winter.

  • An exclusive radio commentary from the England vs. Sri Lanka will be broadcast on Test Match Special at 04:15 GMT Thursday morning.

With Stokes on rest, Burns on paternity leave and Pope still recovering from a dislocated shoulder, England’s top five is likely to consist of Dom Sibley, Zach Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Ruth and rookie Dan Lawrence.

Even if Bairstow played 70 Tests, Root would still have 97 caps, more than the other top five players combined.

Add to that the fact that Moeen missed the entire series of two tests after contracting the coronavirus, and Woakes only after contracting. For example, England will conduct tests without all of Stokes, Woakes and Moeen for the first time since the first ace test in Brisbane in November 2013.

With bowling veterans James Anderson and Stuart Broad rested, England will make up to five changes from their last Test against Pakistan in August.

All this in the context of a biosecurity bubble in Sri Lanka and field preparation limited to one day of internal warming.

We feel as ready as we can be, Ruth told Sport.

Things are very different, this winter there will be several challenges that we have never encountered before.

The series on Sri Lanka has been delayed since last March when it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Immediately afterwards, England embark on a tour of India, with a series of comebacks against India and two more Tests against an opponent yet to be confirmed on the summer home schedule.

The Twenty20 World Cup takes place in the autumn and the year concludes with Australia’s Ashes reunion.

With the number of cricket matches and opportunities available to us, this is a very exciting time for me and the whole team, Ruth said.

It would be really nice to get a good start and carry it over to the rest of the winter and beyond.

England won their last series in Sri Lanka 3-0 in 2018. This time, with a 2-0 win, they retain their slim hopes of reaching the World Cup test finals in England this summer.

Sri Lanka lost the last series 2-0 to South Africa.

They were hit hard by injuries on this trip, which only ended last week, but they were able to recall experienced drummers Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal for the first test.

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