England's Test skipper Joe Root is ready to help England with his off-spin in their upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka.
The 30-year-old is one of the most prolific batsmen England has produced, having scored 7823 runs in 97 Tests at 47.99, with 17 hundreds.
However, Root also has 29 wickets to his name in the longest format, with his best performance coming against South Africa last year, where he bagged figures of 4-87. In a press conference before the series, the England skipper revealed his desire to contribute with the ball.
"I've readied myself for it. I've prepared for it in practice and it does seem to be coming out okay at the moment," Joe Root said.
England's first-choice off-spinner Moeen Ali has been all but ruled out of the series. He is currenly serving his 14-day quarantine period after having tested positive for COVID-19.
Joe Root believes he can share the workload of the spinners by bowling in tandem with Dom Bess and Jack Leach. The last time England won a Test series 3-0 in Sri Lanka was in 2018, where their spinners picked up 48 wickets.
Thus Root will have a crucial role to play in the upcoming series with the ball. He said in this regard:
"With any attack, in any conditions, it's about performing in partnerships and working with guys at the other end. I'll just try to execute the role that is needed. If it is the case that I need to bowl longer spells than previously and take a bigger workload in this series then I'm looking forward to that challenge."
We are very keen to get ahead in the game: Joe Root
Joe Root recalled England's disastrous batting performance in the Test series against New Zealand three years ago where they were bowled out for 58. This took away all the hope that they had of securing a series win.
The 30-year-old understands that there is very little room for error in a two-match Test series. Thus, it is imperative to start the series on the front-foot.
"Look back to New Zealand, we had a terrible first-morning session and it wiped the series out for us. We have started series poorly, as was mentioned last summer (in England), and if we are to keep improving as a team we can't be behind the eight ball going into the second Test match of every series," Root asserted.
Root wants his men to learn from that New Zealand series and try to put pressure on the Sri Lankans by scoring big in their first-innings. In this regard, he said:
"We are very keen to start off strongly and to get ahead of the game. The way we are going to do that is by scoring big first-innings runs and controlling the game."
The first Test between Sri Lanka and England will begin on January 14 at Galle. While the hosts are just back from a demoralizing series whitewash away to South Africa, they will take heart from the fact that they are playing in their home conditions.
With the pitches likely to be tailor-made for the spinners, the series will be dominated by the team that performs better in the spin department. It remains to be seen the kind of impact that Joe Root will have with the ball.