England may be 2-0 up in the series after a resounding victory over India. They may have dominated the entire Indian batting line-up apart from Virat Kohli. Not to mention there is a chance Kohli may not be at full strength for Trent Bridge after battling back stiffness at Lord’s.
And yet… Joe Root isn’t leading the wagon-circling just yet. That is to be expected of course. Captains are naturally cautious of prematurely blowing the victory horn, they’d rather wait until all the ladies of varying girth have packed up their vocal chords and gone home. So it was no surprise that Root was keen to play down any talk of smelling five-nil-type blood in the water after an innings victory that has left India in disarray.
“Obviously, that would be the dream – to put in five complete performances and have five wins,” said Root. “But it’s important we don’t get complacent, arrogant, or look too far ahead.
“We’re playing against the No. 1 side in the world, with some very talented players, and we have to make sure we keep looking to learn and develop.
“We’re not the finished article – we’ve got a long way to go to where we want to get to. We’re going to have to start again and work extremely hard over the next five days to win the next game.
“That’s got to be our mentality…of course, it’s a great position to be in – 2-0 up with three to go, going into Nottingham, which is a great place for us to play.
“But we’ve really got to make sure we are realistic about things. Enjoy the position we’re in, and when we get our opportunities really try to put India under pressure and drive the game forward, but not get ahead of ourselves”
The question of how to fit both Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes into one Test team is one that has hovered around the England camp for some time. Stokes’ availability for the third Test is completely out of England’s hands for now but his loss has been softened by Woakes’ Man of the Match performance – he took four wickets and made an unbeaten 137 – in his first match back from side and knee injuries.
“Ben is obviously a huge part of this squad, so it’s a miss him not being here this week,” said Root. “But what it did do was create an opportunity for Chris to come in and perform – and boy, he didn’t disappoint did he? He was outstanding.
“He’s a big part of our squad, all three formats, it’s been a frustrating summer for him, he’s been injured for a long part of it, and to get an opportunity to come in this week – the easy thing to do is get anxious, try a bit too hard, but he settled in magnificently well with that first spell in particular, then took that confidence into his batting, that partnership changed the game, turned it on its head, and got us miles ahead on that surface.
“It’s a great headache to have for us, going into next week.
“It’s nice to see guys really taking opportunities, and that’s something we really want to harness as an example to the guys in and around the squad – when you get your chance, make it as hard as possible to leave you out.
England are mindful that their own performances with the bat and in the field have hardly been blemish free in the first two Tests and Root doesn’t want his side distracted by the prospect of any changes India make as they try to salvage the series.
“We haven’t played the perfect performance yet, and that’s something we’ve got to keep striving towards, regardless of what team India have at Trent Bridge. We’ve got a place we want to get to as a side, and we have to continue to work hard to get there. It’s important we enjoy this win then we spend next couple of days getting good preparation into that third Test.”