It was the moment on which the Ashes pivoted a year ago almost to the week. Joe Root edged his second ball of the series to Brad Haddin’s right and down it went, shattering Australia’s aura of invincibility as the 5-0 winners of the previous series.
The fifth one-day international against Sri Lanka on Saturday will be Root’s first match in Cardiff since his match-winning 134. The scoreboard operators, when England were practising, kindly recreated the score at the fall of the last wicket in that opening Test, when Josh Hazlewood lashed a skier that was caught – by Root.
“We didn’t ask for it but it is a lovely touch,” Root said. “It’s always nice to see that sight and relive what was a really strong start to that series. It would be a fitting way to finish this series if we could do something similar tomorrow. We’ve played some really strong stuff bar the five or six-over blip in our batting in the first game.
“I remember it [the ball hit by Hazlewood] coming towards me and thinking it was sailing over my head but I think the wind just held it up. It was quite a surreal day, I somehow managed to get a couple of wickets. The ball I relive most is getting dropped second ball by Haddin.
“We’ll never know, I suppose,” replied Root when asked whether he thought it was the crucial moment, “but it was obviously quite significant in terms of the series. But it’s just the way sport goes. It’s about making those big misses count in your favour.”
That Cardiff Test was also the first time Trevor Bayliss was in charge of England and where he made his first telling comment – that it did not matter how long you batted but how many runs you made. His players took it as licence for controlled attack.
Since Bayliss became head coach, England in one-day series have lost by the odd match in five to Australia and South Africa. They have comfortably beaten Pakistan and Sri Lanka – indeed Sri Lanka have yet to win a game on this tour of England.
England were not relentless in the Test series: at Lord’s they allowed Sri Lanka a second wind and the tourists drew the game with the help of rain. In this dead-rubber game they are more likely to be, as their one-day captain, Eoin Morgan, has a more ruthless streak than Test captain Alastair Cook.
They might not risk Alex Hales with his stiff back and give James Vince what would effectively be his ODI debut as he had no chance to do anything in a rain-ruined one-off in Ireland. A fourth seamer could also be brought in – Chris Jordan, who has the distinction of dismissing Sri Lanaka’s captain Angelo Mathews more often (five times) than any other ODI bowler, or Steven Finn – as the pitch has a greenish tinge and the straight boundaries are short.
Following Jason Roy’s 162 at the Kia Oval on Wednesday, Root mused about the possibility of an England batsman reaching 200: it has only been done by Rohit Sharma (twice), Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar – all on Indian pitches – Chris Gayle against Zimbabwe and New Zealand’s Martin Guptill.
No England batsman was “eyeing it up”, Root said, but any of England’s top six could score 200 in an ODI – apart from himself, he modestly added. But the majority of knockout games in global tournaments, or at any rate the finals, have not been high-scoring. A tight defence early in an innings, such as Root’s, is just as valuable as big-hitting power.
A crowd about 1,000 short of the 15,000 capacity is expected. One or two Welsh supporters might not turn up on time for the 10.30 start. (Courtesy Telegraph)