After clinching the fifth Test against India at Oval by 118 runs, England skipper Joe Root said the current England team is on a rising curve. The Three Lions clinched the 5-Test series 4-1 at home, defeating the World No. 1 Indian side. Speaking to reporters at the press conference after the match, the 27-year-old said, “I think we are on an upward curve. I do think we’ve shown a lot of improvement this summer. When we’ve had tough days and tough games, we’ve responded to that. We are going to have some difficult challenges ahead. This winter is going to pose a lot of different challenges to playing in these conditions but that presents a great opportunity for us to show some growth as a team.”
Despite the fifth Test being a dead rubber, Root said that the victory at Oval means a lot for the England side. “It’s huge for the group. Having already won the series, it’s something we’ve got wrong in the past. The lads have delivered this week. They’ve been really outstanding in all departments,” he said. “Everyone played a significant part and that’s what’s been really pleasing. Hopefully, now we can kick on. We are going to have different challenges in the winter. We know where we want to get to and that we are not the perfect side but if we can continue with the same drive and attitude, then we’ve got every chance of getting right to the top,” he added.
Talking about seamer James Anderson, who claimed his 564th Test wicket in the Test, becoming the most successful fast bowler of the format, Root said that the 36-year old was at his best throughout the series. “What Jimmy has achieved and what he is capable of achieving still is astounding. For him to have taken as many wickets as he has, chasing the big two spinners, is a phenomenal effort. He’s probably bowling at his best. Throughout this summer, he’s been outstanding. Hopefully he can keep that going,” he said.
He further went on to praise Alastair Cook who scored a century in his final Test. “I said it was written in the stars and for it to turn out as it has, it’s fairytale stuff for Alastair to go out like that and Jimmy at the end. For those two guys, who are two really close mates, they’re going to miss playing together. It will be different with him not being there but it does create an opportunity for someone else now,” Root said.
He further added that he has asked Cook if he wishes to reconsider his decision to retire. “There have been a few times this week when I’ve asked if he’s sure. I’m just so pleased he can go out in real style. For it to finish how it has, is pretty special,” the skipper said.
England will now travel to Sri Lanka for a three-Test series in November followed by a tour to West Indies in the new year. In the absence of Cook, Root would need to resolve the question behind who would open the innings in Test cricket. But the captain said he is confident in spite of the big upcoming decision, especially with batsmen lower down the order chipping in with runs. “Of course you want to maximise your runs at the top of the order. You want to get off to good starts but we’ve made up for that in other areas. We’ve been very smart down the order. Guys have stood up and taken that opportunity and made sure we got to totals to give us a chance of winning,” he said.