LONDON (Reuters) – Joe Root believes a year in the captaincy has given him the experience he needs to move up the England batting order to the pivotal number three position for the two-test series against Pakistan beginning on Thursday.
Since replacing Alastair Cook as the test captain last year, Root has batted at number four and juggled the dual demands of being the leader of the side as well as its batting mainstay.
Coach Trevor Bayliss, though, believes England’s best batsman should come at number three and the axing of James Vince for the series against Pakistan has ensured Root’s elevation.
“I think it’s an opportunity for me to take on a bit more responsibility at the top of the order,” Root said at the launch of England’s 2018 kit.
“I’ve had a year in the captaincy now and I feel I’ve gained enough experience to feel comfortable doing that.
“For me it was getting used to the captaincy and making sure I could separate the two; that my full focus was on my batting when it came around.”
The England top order’s struggle for consistency was evident in their series defeats in Australia and New Zealand as Gary Ballance, Tom Westley and Vince all failed to establish themselves at number three.
Root’s highest test score of 254 came at number three, in a 2016 test against Pakistan.
“I did it (number three) for one game in New Zealand and it didn’t work out there but this is a great opportunity to do it at home and it’s a great opportunity moving forward,” Root said.
“Ultimately nothing will change about the way I go about my batting. I will look to have that hunger and desire to make really big runs.”
Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow will bat at number five in a revamped batting order, while Jos Buttler, who has been in scintillating form in the Indian Premier League, has been selected as a specialist batsman at number seven.
“He has done some very special things in one-day and T20 cricket and won games when he has been under pressure,” Root said of Buttler.
“Now there is an opportunity for him to do that in test cricket. I can see him putting a lot of bums on seats. That is very exciting for me. He can change a game in half an hour with the bat.”