Joe Root has supported England to move ahead of India’s defeat in the third Test and seal the series in fourth place. Confirmation of England’s defeat came in 10 minutes on the fifth day, when India needed only one wicket. James Anderson top-edged a catch to Ajinkya Rahane at first slip off Ravichandran Ashwin to seal a 203-run win.
However, England have made a 2-1 lead for the fourth Test, which will be played in The Rose Bowl, Southampton Stadium . Here in 2014, the hosts had won a regular victory on India with 266 runs. Root, dismayed by the performance put in after two strong displays at Edgbaston and Lord’s, is not losing sight of the fact that his side still hold the aces.
We still have the time to make the series our name and we come back very well in a difficult time. I hope we will return to the series by winning the match in Southampton. England selectors, management and medical staff have much to consider. The capitulation on the second day, in which England lost all 10 wickets for just 107 in the middle session, finishing their first innings on 161 to give up a 168-run lead after India posted 329.
The players had a debrief on the evening of the collapse (Sunday) and “spoke quite honestly about how we’re going to get this right”. It is the third time that England have given up all their wickets in a session since the start of 2016, something they have never previously done before that point.
It’s obviously not good enough,” said Root. “In this format, and for the group of players we’ve got, it’s well below par what we’re capable of doing – even if it is bowler-friendly conditions. We have to get that right very quickly.”
There is an established core who have been involved throughout and one of those, Alastair Cook, has come under the microscope. This series, he has managed just 80 runs from five innings, with a top score of 29, leaving him with an average of just 16. It is in keeping with his 2018 so far, which extends to a total of 14 innings from eight Tests and an average of 19.
There are question marks over his participation in the fourth Test with his wife due to give birth to their third child. However, it is understood that Cook will miss the birth, if need be. As far as Root is aware, he is going to be available for selection.
If Cook were to miss the Test to attend the birth, it would leave England in a bit of a hole, with Keaton Jennings looking devoid of form or technical improvement since he was dropped for the first time last year. Surrey’s Rory Burns, the leading run-scorer in Division One in the County Championship will be his replacement if the selectors decide this will be the Lancashire opener’s last match.
Root, though, has given his backing to Cook, sighting the poor form displayed by the 33-year-old over the last month as an indication of the pitches they have played on. He’s a world-class performer, he’s proven that time and time again and actually I’d like you to write him off because every time he’s written off he comes back and scores a double hundred.
We have to be realistic about these things. You look at both sides, both top orders have struggled and it might be that’s the case again in Southampton. There’s no-one with more experience currently in Test cricket than him. So I’m sure he will be calling upon all of that going into that game and giving himself the best chance.”