Joe Root believes England’s triumphant Test tour of Sri Lanka proves they are no “one-trick pony” and is ready to embrace rising expectations around his side.
Most of England’s recent successes have come in seam-friendly conditions at home and they arrived on tour winless in the last 13 matches overseas, a sequence they banished in style with victories in Galle and Kandy before ensuring a clean sweep in Colombo on Monday.
The last time an English touring team landed a whitewash in a series of three or more games came in New Zealand back in 1963 and the only other occasion dates back to the days of Lord Hawke in the 19th century.
To have done so on three spinning wickets, effectively outperforming Sri Lanka in their own strongest suit and jettisoning generations of struggles against the turning ball, is a source of considerable pride for the captain.
Root’s England have been bold in selection, aggressive of intent and imaginative in their methods and fans can expect more of the same as his reign continues.
“It’s all about being adaptable and we’ve shown we can do that here,” he said after a 42-run win at the SSC.
“We’ve shown we are not a one-trick pony in our own conditions any more and that should fill us with a huge amount of confidence going into future tours.
“This has been a fabulous tour from start to finish, I’m very proud of everything we’ve achieved and it is a great motivator as we keep looking to get better and drive each other on.
“As we grow as a team we’ll have different challenges and if we continue to keep getting better that’s a different pressure we’ll have to handle whenever it comes along.”
When Root looks around the dressing room he will see no shortage of match-winners and game-changers.
Across the three Tests England boasted four different centurions, several momentum-shifting fifties, 48 wickets between the three specialist spinners, four incredible interventions at short-leg from Keaton Jennings and the relentless all-round efforts of Ben Stokes.
“It would easy for me to sit here and take all the compliments but without that squad of players pushing each other, being willing to learn and improve, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have,” he said.
“That’s been the most enjoyable thing about it. It’s been a complete squad effort. I said at the start that was going to have to be the case and whether it’s guys on their first tour in these conditions or the senior players that have really taken that tag and stepped to set an example for the young guys, it’s been very impressive.”
Player-of-the-series honours went to Surrey wicketkeeper Ben Foakes, left out of the original squad but brought over as injury cover for Jonny Bairstow. After topping the run-scoring charts and showcasing his elegant glovework in testing conditions, head coach Trevor Bayliss admitted the later arrival has already nailed down his place.
“The way Foakesy has gone in this series I think he will definitely be there for the next one,” said the Australian.
For his part the tour’s breakout star took a more laissez-faire approach, adding: “I’m here for the ride. I’d like to be here for longer but we’ll see what happens. I’m just going with the flow really.”