Joe Root: I can shine as the third man
Joe Root insists he is already mentally prepared to thrive at No.3 in England’s Test series against Pakistan. Root will move one place up the order for the four-Test challenge, with Pakistan in England for the first time since the controversial 2010 tour.
Root hailed coach Trevor Bayliss and captain Alastair Cook for floating his proposed promotion early on in order to let him steal a march in his own mind.
“We had a few discussions throughout the season that it could be a possibility moving forward,” said Root of talks with England’s management about moving to No.3.
“The fact that I had quite a long time to think about it and chat it over with the selectors and Trevor and Cooky probably made it a bit easier, rather than being thrown into the role.
“The way they’ve dealt with it has been really good and it’s given me time to get my head around it. I feel pretty comfortable going into the series and it’s now just about trying to make sure that it’s something I feel comfortable with moving forward and I can keep making big scores and contributing to winning Test matches.”
England host Pakistan at Lord’s first up, with the first Test starting tomorrow, where Mohammad Amir will make his return after his ban for spot-fixing.
Root rejected suggestions that England’s middle order will be weakened by his move to No.3 and Ben Stokes’ injury absence.
“I think that’s harsh,” said Root when asked if England’s middle order is a work in progress. “Someone like Jonny Bairstow would consider himself a middle order batsman, and he’s taken his game to another level.
“This series is a great opportunity for guys to stand up and put some strong performances in.
“Guys like James Vince will be looking forward to getting back out and playing red-ball cricket again. He’s got a little bit of experience under his belt and will gain confidence from that.”
Amir’s return to Lord’s, for his first Test since he was caught attempting to spot-fix at the Home of Cricket, will inevitably overshadow the start of the series.
His fellow left-armer Wahab Riaz made his debut at The Oval six years ago, and also played in the final Test at Lord’s.
He has no doubt Amir will be able to deal with the scrutiny as he resumes his career at the highest level, initially at the scene of his crime, following a prison sentence and a five-year ban for his part in the plot alongside Mohammad Asif and then captain Salman Butt to bowl no-balls for financial gain.
“He will deal with all those things,” said Riaz. “He is ready to answer with his performance — and that is what counts.”
Amir’s team-mates did not appear united behind his return from the outset, but Riaz insists he has their support.
“No one is reluctant,” he added. “We see him as a young brother — he is a part of our family. We are all behind him.”