Trevor Bayliss believes Joe Root already bears comparison with the great Kumar Sangakkara among some of the best Test No 3 batsmen in history.
Root’s return to the pivotal position began at Lord’s against Pakistan, and then paid rich dividends for him and England with 325 runs in the landslide series-levelling win at Old Trafford.
In his time with Sri Lanka, England coach Bayliss saw Sangakkara make the role his own during a record-breaking career that brought him more than 12,000 Test runs – and he has no hesitation putting Root in a similar category already.
Root’s career-best 254 helped to put the hosts in a wonderful position in the second Test, and he then added an unbeaten 71 in the second innings as England careered to a 330-run win.
His match aggregate was the fifth-highest by any Englishman, and has also taken him back up to second in the International Cricket Council rankings.
Asked if the Yorkshireman may rival some of the best No 3s he has worked with, Bayliss said: “Definitely. He’s probably very close right now.
“He’s as good as any of those, I think – and thankfully for England’s sake, he’s pretty much at the start of his career.”
At 25, Root ought to have another decade in front of him in Test cricket. Before his return to No 3 against Pakistan, he had six innings there before being dropped in England’s 2013-14 Ashes whitewash defeat in Australia.
England’s plans for the third Test at Edgbaston appear sure to include a contingency for the expected absence of Ben Stokes.
Scans yesterday afternoon were thought likely to confirm the injury-enforced absence of Stokes, prominent among four all-rounders who balance the team so effectively.
Without him, coach Bayliss admits there is a “bit of a hole” in England’s first-choice line-up. After Stokes limped out of the attack with a calf problem at Old Trafford, all indications were that he would be missing in Birmingham next week.