Root finds right recipe as England go ahead in test series

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PORT ELIZABETH: England has set the template for how they want to play test cricket by hitting a big score early that allows them to then dictate the game, said captain Joe Root after they won the third test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Monday.

England scored 499 for nine declared after winning the all-important toss at St George’s Park before bowling their hosts out twice to record a crushing innings and 53 run victory.

“I thought it was a brilliant template for us moving forward as a team with big first-innings runs and we really drove the game from that point onwards,” Root said.

“It was brilliant start by the openers and then the (203-run) partnership between Ollie (Pope) and Ben Stokes, who just continued the magnificent form that he has been in from the start of the series.

“That’s great to see but to also see another two youngsters in this game really step up to the plate and make massive contribution is exactly what we are after at the moment in our development as a team.

“It fills the whole group with massive confidence.”

Pope, 22, was hailed by Root as “smart” while 22-year-old spinner Dom Bess, who took five wickets in the first innings, also won plaudits.

“We’ve got a really clear way of how we’re trying to play the game, everyone knows what their role is in the side and it’s about making sure that when you get your opportunity to affect the game, you go and do it,” the skipper said.

“We executed that brilliantly the last two games,” he added as England’s head to the last test in Johannesburg, which starts on Friday, with a 2-1 series lead after also winning in Cape Town.

“This tour we’ve taken 20 wickets in each test which is something we have struggled with away from home in the past and that’s a big step forward for us.

“We managed to make big 100s with the bat too. There are a number of things we’ve addressed and looked to improve on and we are starting to see some signs of that now.

“By no means are we the finished article but we are heading in the right direction.

“We have a group of players who are willing to learn and we are very clear of the direction we want to take. If it continues we will continue to get the results I’m sure,” he added.

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