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Root backing blend of experience and youth to deliver for England

 

By David Clough

Joe Root has confidence in England's young and old to deliver as Dom Bess prepares for his Lord's debut and Alastair Cook tries to prove he is still a world-beating opener.

Root, who confirmed on the eve of the first Test that 20-year-old off-spinner Bess will face Pakistan, backed Cook to extend his record-breaking career "for another couple of years at least".

The England captain is thrilled by Ben Stokes' return at the start of the home summer, after the game-changing all-rounder resumed his international career in New Zealand, having missed last winter's Ashes defeat.

Stokes will feature in just one Lord's Test this summer - he is due in court to answer a charge of affray when India are the opposition in August - but, Root insists, gives England a "different dimension" on the field.

He is equally convinced that Cook, whose inconsistent returns over the past year have included two double-centuries but only 216 further runs at an average of 13.5 since last August, can demonstrate his enduring effectiveness.

England's all-time record runs-corer is only 33 and Root said: "He has huge amounts of experience, a lot of good memories at this ground.

"As far as I'm aware, I can see him playing for another couple of years at least."

England have been able to bank on Cook for the past 12 years, in which he has racked up 154 Test caps.

"He's such a big part of our dressing-room," added Root.

"When he scores runs, it correlates with us doing well."

At the other end of the age scale, Bess is about to become England's youngest spin debutant since 1931 - and the captain has been struck already by his irrepressible demeanour.

"He is a very confident young man.

"He has a lot of energy ... and seems like he is really clear about what he wants to do in the game and how he is going to approach this week.

"That is all you can ask of somebody going to make his debut, which is really exciting for me as captain."

Stokes' presence has a similar effect on an England team which, without and then with him, endured a sequence of seven winless Tests in Australia and New Zealand.

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