A combination of steely calm and overwhelming desire was the driving force behind England’s victory at Edgbaston, according to Joe Root. The England captain revealed he gathered his players together at the start of the fourth day, with India needing 84 runs to win with five wickets in hand and – most significantly – Virat Kohli at the crease, and asked them to channel the confidence gained from their bowling performances throughout the Test.
“I spoke to the boys at the start, and said, ‘Just go out there with that belief and desire that you have shown the previous two days on the field’ – and they didn’t disappoint,” Root said. “I couldn’t be prouder of that. That’s all you can ask as a captain… the guys to do as you ask, and under pressure to stay as calm as we did.
“As a group, to not chase it too much and get too excited, shows a lot of maturity when the majority of the team is still learning what Test cricket is about. I think that’s really good for us as a team, and sets us up nicely moving into the next Test.”
Root identified Sam Curran, the Player of the Match in his just second Test, as a cricketer who demonstrated this combination of resolute hunger. Curran’s contribution of 63 runs in the second innings proved to be crucial to England’s ultimate victory. Although England were defending a seemingly reachable target of 194, Root said his message at the start of their defence was similar to the one he delivered before the start of play today.
“We knew wickets were going to be quite crucial, but the way that this Test match had gone to that point, it always seemed that if you took one wicket you were going to get two or three,” Root said. “We always felt like we were in the game and the ball swung throughout and credit to both bowling sides actually, India’s attack and obviously ours.
“We exploited that [conditions] really well, made it very difficult for all the batters on that surface. I think sometimes it’s easy to criticise the batting group but the way both seaming groups, in particular, bowled was outstanding and hence why we finished so quickly. It was a great surface that made for some great Test cricket and I think it’s important that you don’t underestimate how well people have bowled out there.”
In the past few home seasons, England’s form from match to match has often swung far more violently than even the best balls bowled in this Test. But Root hopes the cocktail of steel and desire shaken and stirred at Edgbaston can be bottled for the rest of the series.
“It shows that there’s so much more than runs and wickets and skill in Test cricket, you’ve got to have a bit more,” Root said. “An inner belief and steeliness, which you see a lot of in our dressing room, that carries a lot of weight when it really matters at this level.”