Root and England to weigh risk of playing Anderson and Robinson in must-win final Test

By Sports Desk September 08, 2021

Joe Root and England will weigh up over the next couple of days whether to risk James Anderson and Ollie Robinson for the must-win final Test with India.

England head into the fifth Test at Old Trafford 2-1 down in the series after India produced another stirring comeback to prevail by 157 runs at The Oval.

It puts Root in the unenviable position of having to measure the risk against the potential reward of salvaging the series, with Anderson and Robinson having taken on the majority of the workload in the attack.

The absence of all-rounder Ben Stokes, who is taking time away from the game to focus on his mental health, and the injured Jofra Archer, as well as fitness issues for Mark Wood, has led to Anderson (163.3) and Robinson (166.2) bowling 329.5 overs between them.

Robinson is the leading wicket-taker in the series with 21 while Anderson has been similarly impressive, claiming 15 dismissals, but the latter is 39 and management of his playing time is key with The Ashes coming in Australia in December.

Root, who confirmed that Jos Buttler would return as his vice-captain and keep wicket after missing the fourth Test for the birth of his second child, and the selectors have yet to come to a decision on the make-up of the attack.

"That's something that we will weigh up over the next couple of days, these two days are really important for recovery, making sure they're in a position to play Test cricket," he told a media conference. 

"You have to trust the medical advice that's been given and also speak to the players as well, they know their own bodies better than anyone else.

"You never want to go into a Test match putting someone under risk of injury, you want to make sure you do the best thing for a player but you also you don't want to go into a Test match, have someone go down injured and you've one less bowler at your disposal. 

"There are a number of things to factor in, we'll make sure we feel very confident that everyone is fit to take the field and put in a Test-worthy performance when it comes round to selecting a team for this game."

While Robinson and Anderson have excelled with the ball, Root has been the sole standout with the bat for England, racking up 564 runs including three hundreds in a sparkling series for the world's number one Test batsman.

Though openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed have each scored a pair of half-centuries, no other player in the side has a ton this series, with Root believing clarity of thought is key to his team-mates changing that fact.

"It's not something that I've always got right, there's been long periods of my career where I was very guilty of getting in and getting out and it might happen again in the future, I really hope it doesn't," Root added. 

"What I have managed to do well so far this year is I know how I want to score my runs, I know where my big strengths are, I just back them completely. Trusted my decision-making under pressure, not doubted it, and when I have got in I've felt like I've had that mindset of 'it's going to take something very special to get me out'.

"Hopefully that can be infectious and feed through the rest of the batting group. It just takes that one person to go on and do it, it can very quickly spread like wildfire and feed into the rest of the group. Hopefully that can materialise this week."

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