Joe Root says England are brimming with confidence following back-to-back victories against India, but knows they must capitalise on their form when the final Test starts at the Kia Oval on Friday.
After playing out a stalemate in the opening Test England slumped to a 95-run defeat at Lord’s, although successive victories in Southampton and Manchester have left the hosts in charge of the series.
England’s victory at the Ageas Bowl ended a 10-match winless run before an emphatic innings and 54-run win at Emirates Old Trafford put Alastair Cook’s side on the brink of a series win.
However Yorkshire batsman Root, who stands third in the series’ top run-scorers with 369, believes there is no room for complacency in the England camp and urged his team-mates to put their new-found confidence to effective use.
“You come out of two games where we’ve played some really strong cricket and there’s a lot of confidence,” Root told Sky Sports.
“A lot of guys are putting in some really strong performances and as a side we’ve pulled really tight. We needed to do that after Lord’s, it obviously wasn’t a very good performance as a team, but I think we’ve done that exceptionally well.
“I think the key now is to go into Friday and continue that, to build on what we’ve done so far and remember this is just the start of where we want to be.
“We can’t rest on just two Test wins, we have to capitalise on what we’ve started and really cement what we have done to take this series home.”
England’s woeful run in the Test arena started in Australia, where they endured an Ashes series whitewash, and since their return there has been a number of changes in the dressing room.
Andy Flower departed as head coach to be replaced by Peter Moores while a number of promising talents have earned international debuts. Root believes the new formula is finally starting to click.
“There have been a lot of new faces coming into the team, some guys have had to do slightly different roles to what they’ve been used to and I think it’s just coming together nicely, sometimes these things take a bit of time,” Root added.
“I don’t think we can look back too much, obviously what has happened, happened, but we’ve played a lot of cricket since then and we have to take confidence from the good things and learn from the stuff we haven’t done so well.”
While a number of new faces continue to establish their place in the England camp, James Anderson has been an ever-present feature and despite the off-field furore earlier in the series, the Lancashire seamer could end the summer in record-breaking fashion.
Eight wickets in the final Test of the summer would see Anderson overtake Sir Ian Botham to become England’s leading wicket-taker in Test cricket and team-mate Root had nothing but praise for the man dubbed ‘The Burnley Express’.
“He’s obviously very skilful, his record suggests that,” Root said of Anderson, who has taken 376 Test wickets for England.
“He’s been exceptional for us over the last couple of games especially and we’re going to need him to be exactly the same over this next game.
“He’s one of those blokes who comes up every game, he fronts up and he always gives his best, those are the sort of guys you need in the side.”
You can see the fifth and final Test between England and India - the 200th live England Test on Sky Sports - from 10am on Friday on Sky Sports 2.