Authors: Rio Sports
Joe Root tipped his England team to achieve something special in this winter’s Ashes defence after they brushed aside West Indies with a three-day victory at Lord’s and made it two series wins from two under his fledgling captaincy.
Jimmy Anderson, fresh from claiming his 500th Test wicket on Friday, completed career-best figures of seven for 42 to bowl out Jason Holder’s tourists for 177. The target of 107 was knocked off with minimal fuss in 28 overs for a nine-wicket win.
Thoughts naturally now turn to the tour of Australia with Root saying: “I’m happy with the way the whole group is shaping up. Guys have stepped up and taken their games forward. There’s plenty of challenges ahead but, with those, is a great opportunity. We shouldn’t be afraid of going over there and, if we perform at our best, doing something really special.”
While Ben Stokes collected the man of the match for his first-innings six-wicket haul and 60 with the bat, Anderson claimed the series award, and his 39 wickets across the Test summer were the most by an English bowler since Jim Laker’s 46 in 1956.
Though his attack leader is 35, Root puts this success down to Anderson’s continuing appetite and skill. Root said: “He’s one of the most skilful bowlers I’ve ever played with. The control he has with a ball that’s doing a minimal amount and one that’s hooping around is remarkable. It’s just relentless pressure for the batters.
“He has just shown what he is still capable of and that he is still desperate to kick on and do some more great things.”
Despite defeats to South Africa at Trent Bridge in July and West Indies in the second Test at Headingley Root was impressed by the response to both in the two series wins, praising his side’s resilience and character – noting them as two attributes required for an Ashes tour.
Speaking to BBC’s Test Match Special, Trevor Bayliss, the head coach, said that the next selection meeting at the end of this month will mean “two or three” positions would be discussed – alluding to those of Tom Westley, Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan – but said he could not see the panel looking outside players used in the last 12 to 18 months.
Westley and Stoneman will be buoyed by their presence at the end of the win, unbeaten on 44 and 40 respectively, with Root saying: “The way they went out there and were ruthless. To show composure and be the two guys not out to win a game for England was great to see and it shows where the mentality of the dressing room is right now.”
On England’s catching, which was sub-par all series, resulting in 16 drops in total, Root said: “Especially in Australia, you need to make sure when you create opportunities you take them. So there’ll be a lot of hard work going into that, but it’s not something we’ve shied away from this summer and we’ll continue doing everything we can to take those chances.”
Holder highlighted the bowling of Kemar Roach after a first-innings five for 72 and described West Indies’ tour as encouraging for their development overall. Shai Hope, whose twin hundreds in Leeds set up the decider here, was named their man of the series.
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