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England and Joe Root feel the positives but opening question remains | Vic Marks


Series victory against India was a fillip as was Joe Root’s century but who opens the batting in Sri Lanka is no clearer

The players deserve their rest after a whirlwind five-Test series completed in record time, which has enchanted those able to watch it. The margin of victory, 4-1, compared with 3-1 in 2014, is a bit of a puzzle since India competed far better this time around, especially when the ball was in the hands of their pacemen and the bat in the hands of their captain, Virat Kohli. But by the Oval both those parties had run out of steam.

In at least two Tests the outcome was in doubt during the final innings. As a consequence the cricket was a terrific advert for the Martin Plan – centred on the BBC televising the Lord’s Test jointly with Sky – proposed on these pages a couple of weeks ago. At the Kia Oval there were times when the match was taken over by the drama that stems from individual landmarks. Often these are unwelcome intrusions in a cricket match. But not here. Neither Jimmy Anderson nor Alastair Cook sought the great attention that this game brought them; that is not their way. So the spilling over of emotions among the crowd and the cricketers was genuine and obviously added to the occasion. It was neither contrived nor gimmicky. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here for those who are supposed to be the guardians of the game.

Related: Jimmy Anderson’s record wicket ensures England beat India in fifth Test

Related: A Viking farewell for Alastair Cook, England’s unflashy seducer of the crowds | Barney Ronay

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