England captain Joe Root has preached the virtue of patience with both bat and ball as he and head coach Chris Silverwood plot a way to take the Test team forward.
Silverwood has already suggested he wants a more attritional approach to batting after succeeding Trevor Bayliss, whose ‘positive and aggressive’ philosophy was blamed for a number of alarming collapses.
England have been skittled for less than 100 three times this year while on four occasions since 2016 they have lost all 10 wickets in a session.
Root, though, avoided solely focusing on the batsmen as he looks at areas to improve.
While his bowlers have thrived in English conditions, they have sometimes been found wanting on flat pitches away from home, where they have won just once in their last six overseas series – whitewashing Sri Lanka last year.
With speculation mounting that the wickets in New Zealand ahead of next week’s first Test may be unresponsive, Root has challenged his bowlers to settle for a containing role to assert pressure, if necessary.
That tactic was notably attempted in the 2017-18 Ashes, only for Steve Smith to outlast England’s efforts, but it does not seem to have dissuaded Root.
He said: “One thing we’ve got to continue to keep improving, and I think we were brilliant last winter, was finding different ways of winning Test matches away from home, exploiting different surfaces, being a bit more adaptable.
“You can fall into the trap when playing in English conditions as they’ve been in the last couple of years, to get used to Test cricket being played in fast-forward – and it’s not like that everywhere you go.
“So we’ve got to be prepared to adapt to that and manage those conditions. Maybe be a little more patient at times in terms of trying plans for a little bit longer and being a bit more relentless.
“Whether it’s controlling the rate with the ball, building pressure that way, or being prepared to score at two an over for 150 overs, if that’s what it takes to make 400 then we’ve got to be prepared to do that.”
Root – who will shuffle back down to four in the batting order, starting in Mount Maunganui – says he and Silverwood have identical visions for the Test side.
Root said: “Silvers has come in and had his own ideas and we’re very much on the same page about how we take this team forward.
“We’ve made it very clear to the group how we see that happening over the next couple of years and that’s exciting.”
One of their key priorities is to win back the Ashes Down Under in 2021-22, and Root is looking at the triumphant 2010-11 campaign as a possible blueprint – especially the experience in that squad.
Root said: “We’ve 25 Tests between now and then. If you get a core group of players together in that period and they share experiences and they become more experienced individually, it’s going to stand you in good stead.
“You look at the side that won there in 2010 and the majority had played between 40 and 80 Tests. It does count for a lot.”
While Root will be at the forefront in the Test team, the Yorkshireman’s place in the Twenty20 set-up seems a little more uncertain.
He was rested from the recent series against the Black Caps and, in his absence, Dawid Malan staked his claim for a spot in next year’s T20 World Cup with a blistering century in Napier – only England’s second in the format.
Root added: “Ultimately it’s about us winning World Cups. My goal is to try to make sure I’m in the best XI and if I’m not and I’m in the squad, it’ll be about helping the rest of the guys that are there.
“If I’m not in the squad that means I’d like to think, without sounding arrogant, that we’re in a really good place and there are some really good batters in that team.”
Meanwhile, Sam Curran was given the nod ahead of Chris Woakes in England’s final warm-up match.
In what seemed like a strong indication of who will be selected for next week’s first Test against the Black Caps, the left-armer’s angle appeared to have nudged him ahead of Woakes in the fast bowling group.