Lord'Test Of Not Close To A Fair Competition Between The Racket And The Ball: Joe Root > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Lord's Test not even close to a fair contest between bat and ball: Joe Root
After being outplayed for much of the first two days against Ireland at Lord's, England eventually emerged unscathed, with a comprehensive enough victory to take with them into next week's first Ashes Test against Australia. But rather than anything performance-related, the biggest takeaway for Joe Root was that he does not want a similar pitch for the Ashes Test here in three weeks time.
After England had been dismissed for 85 in their first innings and then Ireland were routed for 38 on day three, Root called the Lord's surface, the first Test pitch prepared by new groundsman Karl McDermott, "substandard" on radio and then later said it was "not even close to a fair contest between bat and ball throughout the whole game. First innings, last innings, that tells a story in itself when the scores are as low as that on a surface."
Pitches have generally been bowler friendly in England over the past two seasons. It has delivered exciting cricket but similar surfaces, with plenty of sideways assistance for the bowlers, were not, Root said, something he wants to see repeated throughout the rest of the summer. "We'll have to wait and see if it is similar," Root said when asked what he would think if the Lord's pitch for the Ashes Test was similar to this one. "Don't think it will be.
"There's always different challenges to playing in England. It does do a little bit more than most places, through the air for longer, off the surface a little bit more, especially in the first innings," he added. "You have to find ways of coping with that. It was extreme in this game."
It was certainly not the type of surface that England's fragile top order would have wanted ahead of next week's Ashes. Runs and confidence were the order of the day for the likes of Rory Burns and Joe Denly as they look to cement themselves as Test players. However, England lost all ten wickets in a session on the first day and suffered another collapse in the second innings. Their Test batting woes, which are long-standing, continue.
Although his batsmen were not exonerated for their part in the collapses, Root was keen to put the difficulties of this game into perspective. "From a batting point of view, it's hard to take too much out of it on a surface like that," he said. "A different paced attack to what we will be playing against [in the Ashes] as well. It's frustrating that it has happened before but I do think this is a different scenario.
"There are times when we can manage certain periods better. Maybe we get wrapped up in the speed of things. In the first innings, we were tentative in our movements. Not in the way we played. We weren't that loose. We got out defending a lot. It wasn't the approach that was the problem. We have got to be more precise about how we want to defend. A bit more intent in our movements and getting our feet apart."
What this performance means for Ashes selection remains to be seen. The squad for the first Test will be named on Saturday and while Root was not giving too much away post-game, the make up for the batting line-up will exercise much of the selection meeting taking place at Lord's on Friday afternoon. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler will return after being rested here but Root suggested that making any bold selection calls after this game would be unlikely.
At least England's bowlers got plenty out of the game. Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes combined for all ten Irish wickets on the final day with as good a display of fast bowling in helpful conditions as you will see. "I thought this morning, we were outstanding, I really do," Root said. "I thought we exploited those conditions beautifully. I knew it was going to be challenging defending 180 but I thought that was a lot of runs on that wicket.
"They got in the groove very quickly and when they do that on a surface which offers as much as that one does, it's very difficult for a batter to get started. They just asked the right questions over and over again with the odd bouncer. It's a very simple way of talking about how you want to play Test cricket but I thought they did it extremely well. They were very disciplined and it will serve them very well going into what's to come."
There were positive signs too from Olly Stone on Test debut as well as from Sam Curran, who is fast becoming a golden arm, taking wickets whenever he comes on. There is also encouraging news in Jofra Archer's return for Sussex in the Vitality T20 Blast on Friday evening and if James Anderson continues to recover well from his calf injury, England should have a strong battery of fast bowlers to choose from for next week at Edgbaston and throughout the Ashes. Rotating the pack according to conditions will be likely.
Importantly, England will head to Birmingham with a victory under their belts rather than an embarrassing defeat. That was perhaps as much as they might have hoped for given an unrelenting schedule forced them into red-ball action so soon after their World Cup victory. There has been precious little time to rest and recharge for the likes of Root, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow and at times it showed.
Ahead of the Ashes, there are already plenty of tired bodies and minds, hardly the best position to be in ahead of the highest profile Test series of them all, with five matches packed into seven weeks. "It's been 10 weeks of hard cricket of high emotion and of ups and downs. It does take a lot out of you," Root said.
"We've never been in a position where we've won a World Cup so for half the side to be part of that and then very quickly adjust to Test cricket is unusual. It is what it is. You have to suck it up and get on with it. It's not been perfect but we've dealt with it pretty well. It's hard to look too much into performances on there but mentally coping with it I think we've done alright."
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