When Cook scores runs, it correlates with us doing well, insists Root

Joe Root has confidence in England's young and old to deliver as Dom Bess prepares for his Lord's debut and Alastair Cook tries to prove he is still a world-beating opener.

England's captain Joe Root, (left) and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed pose with the trophy at Lord's, London..
England's captain Joe Root, (left) and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed pose with the trophy at Lord's, London..

Root, who confirmed on the eve of the first NatWest Test that 20-year-old off-spinner Bess will face Pakistan, backed Cook to extend his record-breaking career “for another couple of years at least”.

The England captain is enthused too by Ben Stokes’s return at the start of the home summer – after the game-changing all-rounder resumed his international career in New Zealand, having missed last winter’s Ashes defeat.

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Stokes will feature in just one Lord’s Test this summer – he is due in Bristol Crown Court to answer a charge of affray when India are the opposition in August – but, Root insists, gives England a “different dimension” whenever he takes the field.

He is equally convinced that Cook, whose inconsistent returns over the past year have included two double-centuries but only 216 further runs at an average of 13.5 since last August, can prosper.

Aged 33, England’s all-time record runscorer is only 10 months younger than AB de Villiers, the South African who announced his retirement from international cricket on Wednesday.

Root said, however: “He has huge amounts of experience, a lot of good memories at this ground.

“As far as I’m aware, I can see him playing for another couple of years at least.

“He’s such a big part of our dressing-room.

“When he scores runs, it correlates with us doing well.”

At the other end of the age scale, Bess is about to become England’s youngest spin debutant since 1931 – and the captain has been struck already by his irrepressible demeanour.

“He is a very confident young man. He has a lot of energy ... and seems like he is really clear about what he wants to do in the game and how he is going to approach this week.

“That is all you can ask of somebody going to make his debut, which is really exciting for me as captain.”

Stokes’s last home Test was at Lord’s eight months ago, with a man-of-the-match 6-22 in victory over West Indies.

England (possible): JE Root (Captain), AN Cook, MD Stoneman, DJ Malan, JM Bairstow (wkt), BA Stokes, JC Buttler, CR Woakes, DM Bess, SCJ Broad, JM Anderson.

Pakistan (possible): S Ahmed (Captain, wkt), A Ali, I Ul-Haq, H Sohail, A Shafiq, B Azam, S Khan, F Ashraf, M Amir, M Abbas, H Ali.