Sri Lanka v England: Joe Root turns the tide and then asks his players to improve

Joe Root believes England's triumphant Test tour of Sri Lanka proves they are no 'one-trick pony' and is ready to embrace rising expectations around his side.

Sri Lanka's captain Joe Root gestures during the fourth day of the third test cricket match between Sri Lanka and England in Colombo. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Most of England’s recent successes have come in seam-friendly conditions at home and they arrived on tour winless in the last 13 matches overseas, a sequence they banished in style with victories in Galle and Kandy before ensuring a clean sweep in Colombo yesterday.

The last time an English touring team landed a whitewash in a series of three or more games came in New Zealand back in 1963 and the only other occasion dates back to the days of Lord Hawke in the 19th century.

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To have done so on three spinning wickets, effectively outperforming Sri Lanka in their own strongest suit and jettisoning generations of struggles against the turning ball, is a source of considerable pride for the captain.

Root’s England have been bold in selection, aggressive of intent and imaginative in their methods and fans can expect more of the same as his reign continues.

“It’s all about being adaptable and we’ve shown we can do that here,” he said after a 42-run win. “We’ve shown we are not a one-trick pony in our own conditions any more and that should fill us with a huge amount of confidence going into future tours.

“We’ve got to be open to doing things differently wherever we go, we’ve done it a certain way in these conditions but it will be different in the West Indies next year and obviously very different in Australia next time we’re over there and in South Africa.

“This has been a fabulous tour from start to finish, I’m very proud of everything we’ve achieved and it is a great motivator as we keep looking to get better and drive each other.

England's Adil Rashid, centre, celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis during the fourth day of the third test. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

“As we grow as a team we’ll have different challenges and if we continue to keep getting better that’s a different pressure we’ll have to handle whenever it comes along.

“Without that squad of players pushing each other, being willing to learn and improve, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have.”