January 23, 2020 / 3:17 PM / a month ago

Root hopes for captaincy highlight with series victory

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - England’s Joe Root said that completing a series victory over South Africa in their backyard would be a captaincy highlight, especially after the number of challenges the visitors have had to face over the past few weeks.

Cricket - South Africa v England - Third Test - St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, South Africa - January 16, 2020 England's Joe Root in action REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

“It would be (a big deal) because of the various things that we have had to manage on this tour,” Root said on the eve of the final test starting at The Wanderers on Friday.

“We have had a couple of injuries, senior players who have had to fly home, a lot of illness to deal with and we have had to adapt to a lot of different conditions with what is a young group of players. That’s all been very pleasing.”

England began the tour in mid-December with 10 players as well as support staff suffering from a mystery virus. Further setbacks followed after batsman Rory Burns and fast bowler James Anderson returned home injured.

They lost the first test but rebounded with wins in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth to take a 2-1 series lead.

“It’s a sign we are doing the right things, both in practice and preparation as well as on the field,” added the 29-year-old, who has been England captain since 2017.

“If we can harness that, take it forward and keep improving as a group, then I do think the sky’s the limit for this team. We are very much at the start of something here.

“We are not perfect but we must keep up that attitude, keep driving it forward if we want to get to No. 1 in the world,”

Root said England had not yet finalised their line-up for the test with Jofra Archer waiting to make a comeback after an elbow injury ruled him out of the last two tests.

Mark Wood, who played in Port Elizabeth, must also prove his fitness to play back-to-back matches after a long injury lay off while Chris Woakes is another option.

“It would be nice to see how Archer and Wood pair together, how that looks,” said Root.

“A relentless barrage of pace would be exciting, especially on this surface.”

There is also a decision to be made about retaining off spinner Dom Bess, who claimed a five-wicket haul in the first innings in Port Elizabeth, for a pitch traditionally seamer-friendly.

“We have a nice selection headache,” the England skipper added.

Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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