Joe Root was praised for giving his England players an education in skill and stamina after a masterful 186 in the heat of Galle that kept the tourists fighting in the second Test and continued his own golden start to 2021.
The England captain, 30, set out on the current six-Test tour of Sri Lanka and India after his first year in international cricket without a century in any format and with self-defeating thoughts about his struggles to turn glossy fifties into innings of substance. But having driven England to a 1-0 series lead with 228 last week, and followed this up by batting for more than eight hours in 32-degree temperatures during the second Test, Root has set a standard before the four-match encounter in India that starts on 5 February.
Jos Buttler, who made 55 as England ended day three trailing Sri Lanka by 42 runs at 339 for nine, said: “It’s been a masterclass in batting against spin and it has been a great education for all of us watching from the sidelines. Technically, tactically and physically, it’s an amazing effort. To back up his double hundred in the first Test, both physically and mentally, and to show the application to go and do it again – that hunger just shows where he is at with his game.
“It’s not just young players but older players and people watching from home can learn a lot from watching Joe Root bat against spin.”
Buttler is due to hand the vice-captaincy to Ben Stokes for the series in India, with the all-rounder one of three England players – along with Jofra Archer and Rory Burns – to have landed in Chennai on Sunday morning and begun a six-day quarantine in hotel rooms that may allow some limited gym use after three.
While the opening batsman Burns has been on paternity leave during the Sri Lanka tour, Stokes and Archer were rested as part of a rotation plan for England’s multi-format cricketers that means Buttler will fly home for a break after the series opener.
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Buttler, who will pass the wicketkeeping gloves to Ben Foakes for the second Test in India, said: “No one wants to miss games but the ECB are looking after player welfare in such a strange time with the pandemic, and in such a busy calendar for English cricket.”