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It does not matter who gets our runs as long as we win – Root

Joe Root

West Indies v England, first Test
Venue: Kensington Oval, Barbados Dates: 23-27 January
Coverage: Live text commentary and The Cricket Social on the BBC Sport website and app

England Test captain Joe Root says it does not matter who scores his team’s runs, as long as they are winning.

England used three different number threes in their 3-0 win in Sri Lanka and, since the beginning of 2017, their seventh- and eighth-wicket partnerships have averaged more than the first.

“We are playing to our strengths,” Root told BBC Sport.

“We have to manage expectations and understand that it might not be the top four who score the bulk of the runs.”

Root’s men begin the first of three Tests against West Indies in Barbados on Wednesday.

With only those matches and a four-day Test against Ireland to come before a home Ashes series this summer, the spotlight will once again be on the batsmen in England’s top three to score the runs that will secure their place in the side.

Rory Burns averaged 25 in Sri Lanka, his first tour with the Test side, while opening partner Keaton Jennings made his second Test century almost two years after his first.

Jonny Bairstow was recalled to bat at number three in the final Test and responded with a century.

Coach Trevor Bayliss has already said it is “no secret” that England are trying to find a settled top three.

Root added: “We have a very strong middle order and the wickets we have played on have generally been difficult at the start, putting pressure on the top order.

“As long as we are scoring enough runs to win games of cricket, that is the important thing.

“Maybe there will be more workload at the back end of an innings. That suits the way we set up at the moment – it’s important that the guys keep remembering that. Hopefully it will turn out that we score runs everywhere.”

Root opted against naming the final England XI on Tuesday, saying the tourists would assess conditions on Wednesday.

The beginning of England’s huge 2019

The series in the Caribbean marks the beginning of perhaps the biggest year in England’s cricketing history, with a World Cup on home soil preceding the Ashes.

Root admitted it was difficult not to think of the challenges ahead, but said his team were focusing on winning this series, particularly given their history of struggling in the West Indies.

Even though the Windies have struggled in recent times – they have not won a series against anyone apart from Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since 2012 – England have won only one series in the Caribbean in the past 51 years.

“You can’t ignore it – it’s an exciting summer, with a huge amount of exciting cricket to come,” said Yorkshire batsman Root. “It is something that everyone is really looking forward to.

“But a strong message in the dressing room is that our full focus is on this tour, to make sure we are doing everything we can to win this series.”

The win in Sri Lanka was England’s first away Test series victory for almost three years and the first time they had secured a whitewash in that country.

“It would be great to carry on that momentum,” said Root. “The way we played in Sri Lanka, if we can transfer a lot of that into this series we’ll be really pleased by the end of it.”

Holder calls for Windies consistency

Despite their indifferent results over the past decade, West Indies have remained competitive against England.

Indeed, since England won in the Caribbean in 2004, the Windies have had more success on home soil against England than all nations apart from Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have, losing only one of the seven completed Tests.

And on their last trip to England in 2017, West Indies pulled off a remarkable victory at Headingley before going on to lose a series decider at Lord’s.

“I love playing against England – it’s probably the most enjoyable series for me as a West Indian,” said home captain Jason Holder.

“There’s been some wonderful cricket played between the two sides and I’ve even learned some of the Barmy Army songs.

“We need to be a lot more consistent and put together all facets of the game. The results we’ve had against England show what we can do when we put our minds to it.”

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