Trevor Bayliss believes Joe Root already bears comparison with the great Kumar Sangakkara among some of the best Test number three batsmen in cricket history.
Root’s re-elevation to the pivotal position began at Lord’s against Pakistan, and then paid rich dividend 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 which 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 Investec 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 number threes 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 number three against Pakistan, he had six innings there before being dropped in England’s 2013-14 Ashes whitewash defeat in Australia.
Since then, he had tried it only twice - once in a hectic run chase in Abu Dhabi last winter and then against Sri Lanka at Lord’s, with Alastair Cook down the order because of injury.
Bayliss had long been in favour of moving Root back up from number four.
The Australian added: “He’s hard to tie down - you bowl good balls to him, but he is still able to rotate the strike.
“He doesn’t face a lot of dot balls. He’s difficult to get out and he puts the bad ball away - fairly simple stuff.”
It works for Root, and therefore England as well.
“Now that he’s batting at number three, if we can get off to a good start, it allows those players who are maybe less experienced a little bit more latitude,” added Bayliss.
“(They can) come in at two or three (wickets down) for a lot of runs, rather than three or four for not many.
“It allows them the freedom to go out and play their games.”
England may face an injury-enforced rethink further down the order, depending on the outcome of scans on all-rounder Ben Stokes’ right calf on Tuesday afternoon.
Stokes limped out of the attack mid-over during the victory surge in Manchester, and captain Cook has conceded already he is a “fairly big doubt” for the third Test at Edgbaston next week.
The selectors are expected to announce their squad for that match on Wednesday afternoon.