Monday 16 September 2019

Root backs Cook to get firing again with bat


England's captain Joe Root. Photo: PA Wire
England's captain Joe Root. Photo: PA Wire

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 (right), who confirmed on the eve of the first NatWest 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 enthused too by Ben Stokes's return at the start of the 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 Bristol Crown Court to answer a charge of affray when India are the opposition in August - but, Root insists, gives England a "different dimension" whenever he takes 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.

At the age of 33, England's all-time record run-scorer is only 10 months younger than AB de Villiers, the South African star who announced his retirement from international cricket yesterday.

Root said, however: "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."

England v Pakistan, 1st Test, day one, Live, Sky Sports, 10.0

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