England v Pakistan: Joe Root in rallying cry for Headingley Test

England were thrashed at Lord's
England lost their first home Test of the summer at Lord’s for the first time since 1995
Second Test, England v Pakistan
Venue: Headingley Dates: 1-5 June Start time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and BBC Sport website & app. Live text commentary and in-play highlights on BBC Sport website & app. Full tour details

Captain Joe Root says England’s players must prove to themselves that they can be a “really good team”.

England are winless in their past eight Tests and have to beat Pakistan at Headingley to avoid a third consecutive series defeat.

“There’s plenty of evidence across the board that we have the players,” said Root.

England v Pakistan: Joe Root in rallying cry for Headingley Test
England v Pakistan: Joe Root in rallying cry for Headingley Test

“I have full confidence in that group. We have everything we need to be a really good team.”

England went seven Tests without a win in Australia and New Zealand over the winter and were comprehensively outplayed in a nine-wicket defeat by Pakistan at Lord’s last week.

Of the current England side, only two batsmen – Root and Alastair Cook – average more than 40 in Test cricket.

In addition, the only bowlers to average under 30 with the ball are James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

However, Root rejected the suggestion that the relatively modest career records of most of his team means that England’s results are likely to be mixed.

“We can look at areas where we want to get better and we can look at individual records, but collectively we have underperformed,” said the 27-year-old.

“We have everything we need to be a really good team, it’s just doing it consistently over a long period of time. It’s just proving it to ourselves, more than anything.

“If we do that, I think we’ll fly and go places quite quickly.”

England wait on Stokes fitness

Ben Stokes during training on Thursday
Stokes took three wickets in the Pakistan first innings at Lord’s

England could be without all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has a hamstring injury and was due to have a scan on Thursday.

Stokes, who bats at number six and fills the role of fourth pace bowler, will have a fitness Test on Friday morning.

Sam Curran, the uncapped Surrey left-arm swing bowler, has been called into the squad as cover.

Depending on Stokes’ fitness, he could play as a specialist batsman, potentially leaving England with only four bowling options – three seamers plus the spin of Dom Bess.

Alternatively, Stokes could miss out altogether, meaning a recall for Chris Woakes or a debut for 19-year-old Curran.

“We will look at the nature of the injury and discuss all options,” said Root. “There are so many different ways we could go with it, but until we actually know we can’t make a proper decision.

“It might be that he’s absolutely fine and he can do everything and we’re in the same position we were at the start of the week.”

‘We have to take criticism on the chin’

England were heavily criticised for their performance at Lord’s, which resulted in their first defeat in the first Test of a home summer since 1995.

After the match, coach Trevor Bayliss said he “throws his hands up” and that his message to the players might not be getting through.

Former captain Michael Vaughan also suggested that the team may need a “shake-up”, perhaps to the extent of Broad being left out at Headingley.

And Root accepted that England have to take criticism “on the chin”.

“People have some very strong opinions on where we are right now,” Root told BBC Sport. “All we can do is concentrate on performing well, and if we perform well those opinions might change.

“When you play at the top level, if you don’t play well you come in for criticism. You have to not get too down about it.

“You make sure that when you next get the opportunity to turn that round and put it right, you go out there and take it.”

Pakistan eye series win

Pakistan won on their last trip to Headingley, defeating Australia in a match held at what was a neutral venue in 2010.

However, their only win against England in nine matches in Leeds came in 1987.

If they avoid defeat, they will secure their first series win in England for 22 years. If they win, they will send England down to seventh in the world Test rankings, above only Bangladesh, West Indies and Zimbabwe (Ireland and Afghanistan do not yet have a rating).

“England are a good team,” said Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed. “It would be a very important win. We will be trying our best to win the series.”

The tourists are forced into one change from the side that won at Lord’s, with uncapped batsman Usman Salahuddin replacing the injured Babar Azam.

Similar Posts