England’s series-clinching win in Kandy last week was full of positives for the away side, but no one will be happier than captain Joe Root.
Root scored a magnificent 124 in the second innings, his first away from home as captain, to set Sri Lanka a tricky target and seal his maiden away series win while in charge.
It was undoubtedly a big innings, scored on a difficult pitch at a crucial time in the match and I believe it could prove the turning point for his captaincy.
I feel Root has struggled slightly with combining his batting with leading the side since taking over from Alastair Cook in February 2017.
While India’s Virat Kohli and Australia’s Steve Smith, until his ban this summer, have continued to grow as batsmen since taking the reins, Root has taken time to find his feet.
It’s understandable considering he’s had to learn on the job, but 15 months in he’s now fully comfortable.
Root is definitely the man for the job and hopefully with his confidence high again he can reestablish himself as England’s Mr Consistent, because I think he’s still their best batsman.
His batting was the obvious stand-out last week, but his decision-making in the field was also good, with the seamers taking a back seat while the spinners picked up 19 of the 20 wickets.
In the batting department England have a clear method, which has been developed under Root’s captaincy.
Run-rates are up across Test cricket and the positivity of the one-day side has bled across meaning England are scoring quickly, keeping pressure on and making the most of the new ball.
On slower subcontinent pitches it’s generally easy to score when the ball is harder and despite their top order struggles England look determined to keep the run-rate high.
It’s promising to see new tactics taking hold and the tourists are obviously well-poised with the score at 2-0 ahead of Friday's final Test.
However, I don’t think they should get carried away with the flexible attacking approach. England have played well on this tour, but Sri Lanka’s bowling looks weak and questions marks will return in different conditions against more potent attacks.
England have decided to rest Jimmy Anderson for the match in Colombo, which is sensible, but I would have preferred them to give Olly Stone his Test debut, rather than play Stuart Broad.
Having sat out of the first two games Broad needs games but, as we’ve seen with Anderson, the seamers have struggled to get swing or seam movement on such dry pitches.
Therefore Stone’s pace and ability to generate lift in short spells might have made him more dangerous, as well as blooding him for the future in a no-pressure match.
England travel to the West Indies in the New Year where dry pitches which turn less will suit bowlers of Stone’s style even more.
The competition for selection shows just how good a position England are in though. If they can complete the 3-0 series whitewash that feeling will be strengthened further.