JOE ROOT is warning his England team to expect a backlash from the wounded West Indies.
The tourists head into today’s second Test at Headingley after a thumping innings defeat in the first game at Edgbaston.
The West Indies were widely criticised for their woeful display – Geoffrey Boycott branded them “the worst Test match team I have seen in more than 50 years of watching, playing and commentating on cricket”.
But Root is wary of taking them for granted.
“They’ll come out hard at us,” said the England captain. “No one likes being beaten badly, and they’ll want to make sure they prove a point.
“They’re a proud side with some very talented players, and we’re fully aware of how they’ll approach the game and what they’re capable of.
They’re a proud side with some very talented players, and we’re fully aware of how they’ll approach the game and what they’re capable of.England captaion Joe Root
“We will have to be at our best and make sure we’re 100 per cent on it from the start.”
Root is especially keen that England do not rest on their laurels after their convincing three-day triumph in Birmingham.
After winning his first Test in charge against South Africa at Lord’s by 211 runs, England lost the second game at Trent Bridge by 340 runs before bouncing back to win the final two matches by 239 runs at The Oval and 177 runs at Old Trafford, with the Trent Bridge result a warning against complacency.
“We all sat down and spoke about how that wasn’t a good enough performance and it didn’t reflect fairly on the ability in the dressing room, and it was very important that we produced a really strong response from such a bad defeat,” said Root.
“Everyone was in agreement and worked really hard in the lead up to the next game, then produced a fantastic effort at The Oval.
“This is a different challenge coming out of a strong win (at Edgbaston), but that mentality needs to be the same and the more we can create that in training and around the team, the more that should hopefully happen naturally and will continue to have that same effect within the games as well.
“I think it’s just about having that mentality of being ruthless and at no point easing off the gas when we get into a position of strength.”
England have certainly been ruthless in terms of team selection this week, with no place for Toby Roland-Jones.
The Middlesex pace bowler took 14 wickets in the last three Tests after debuting so impressively against South Africa at the Oval.
However, he misses out at Leeds due to the return of fit-again Chris Woakes, who suffered a side strain during the Champions Trophy in June.
Woakes established himself as a key member of the side last year and England want to give him some overs prior to the Ashes.
“It was a very difficult decision to make,” said Root. “Toby came into the team, took his chance and put in some really strong performances.
“But it is important that ‘Woakesy’ gets some game time and it’s a great chance for him to prove himself and come back into the side with a strong performance.
“He has been phenomenal for us; his record last year was outstanding, and his challenge will be to back that up.”
Root views Roland-Jones as “a massive part of our future moving forward” and admitted that the player had done nothing wrong.
However, he said that Woakes had earned the right to be first-choice pick.
“If ‘Woakesy’ had been fit at the start of the series he would have come into the team straight away on the back of some really strong performances in Test cricket,” added Root.
“But it’s great to see guys coming into the team and taking their opportunities, giving the selectors headaches and having to make difficult decisions like this.
“I told Toby the news that he’d been dropped, and, as anyone would be, he was very disappointed.
“But you wouldn’t want someone to be relieved to be told that they weren’t playing for England, and the way he has gone about his business in training leading up to the game has been outstanding.”