England skipper Joe Root said his team wants to win the fifth and final Test so that his predecessor Alastair Cook can bid farewell to the game on a winning note.
Root, ahead of the Test at the Oval, said that Cook had informed him of his retirement decision in Southampton, and that this wouldn’t be a distraction during the fifth Test.
“It will be quite an emotional week for him and for a lot of the guys who have played a lot of cricket with him. He will be a massive loss to our dressing room. But I’m thrilled he’s got an opportunity to enjoy this game.”
“My full focus has been on making sure we win this game. It’s been an area we’ve not got right in the past and to beat the number one side in the world and make it 4-1 would send a really strong statement of where we are at as a team and where we are looking to go as a team. It would sum up a good summer of cricket for us in difficult conditions,” Root said on the eve of final Test.
The England captain said Cook does not want too much fuss about his retirement day but if ever there was a time for it, “it’s now”.
“We have not got anything planned per se but I’m sure spontaneously we will do something. I’m sure the ground and the occasion and everyone involved will also help him do that fine. I don’t think it will be a distraction but a motivation for the group. It means a lot to the whole dressing room and they will be desperate to do everything they can to give him a great send off.”
“It’s been an outstanding career - 12 years at the top of the order - to have a record like that is some feat, especially in these conditions for the majority of it. There are not many openers around the world who can match that, never mind English players. So he’s going to be very hard to replace.”
Moeen Ali at No 3
The hosts have named their playing eleven without any changes. Jonny Bairstow will keep wickets again with Moeen Ali slated to bat at number three.
Root will bat at number four and said that the competition for keeping between Bairstow and Jos Buttler is healthy.
“Jonny’s been the Test keeper for a long time now and has done a fantastic job. It’s not a reflection on the way Jos went about things in the last game at all. But long-term, you look at scheduling of all international cricket across the formats, and sharing that workload could be really key in terms of keeping everyone fresh and ready and at the top of their game.
About the batting changes, he added, “Moeen has played exceptionally well for his county at three and he wants to do it, feels very comfortable there. The way he batted in his first innings in the last Test, I know it was down the order, but that style of batting could get us off to a really good start and a great chance of taking things on from there. With the winter coming up it might be the way to go, gives us great options.”
“Four is definitely my preferred position, where I think I’ll get the best out of myself as a player and a captain. So I’d have never known that if I’d never given myself the opportunity to bat at number three and I thought it was the right thing to do by the rest of the team and gave us the best chance of winning.”