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Cricket

England ‘on a roll’ despite fitness fears

Joe Root scored his second century of the campaign to seal victory against the Windies

Joe Root feels like England are “on a roll” at the World Cup, despite question marks over the fitness of Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy.

A comprehensive eight-wicket success over the West Indies on Friday made it three wins from four for the tournament hosts, with inviting fixtures against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to come next week.

The only down side of their trip to the Hampshire Bowl came in the form of injuries to captain Morgan, who suffered a back spasm, and opener Roy, who hurt his hamstring.

Both men hobbled from the field and did not bat in the second innings, leaving England hoping for good news from their respective scans.

Root, who scored his second century of the campaign to seal victory against the Windies, admitted it was a worry but remains positive about England’s confident start.

“Of course it’s a concern, they are two very senior players and Morgs is our captain,” he said.

“But that’s what we’ve prepared for going into this tournament, we’ve got strength in depth and we have guys who are performing, or have performed, in England shirts.

“There’s so many good things to come from this game too. We talk about momentum in competitions like this and it’s nice to feel like we’re getting on a bit of a roll. We’ve got some big games around the corner, they come thick and fast, so it’s nice to perform as well as we have.”

Root’s form with the bat – 279 runs at an average of 93 – forms a key part of England’s blueprint for success but less predictable was the pair of wickets he contributed in Southampton.

With Moeen Ali overlooked for the second game in a row Root’s occasional off-spin came into its own against the West Indies, dismissing Shimron Hetmyer and Jason Holder caught and bowled.

Root is cheerfully self-effacing about his bowling but is ready and willing to chip in where needed.

“It was nice to pick up some wickets, but I probably burgled them rather than out-skilled them,” he said.

“I’m not the most skilled off-spinner, I don’t have the best stock ball so it’s about being as unpredictable as possible.

“When you’re lacking in ability you find different ways of contributing and I’ve been working hard at different variations to more difficult for someone to stand there and whack it out of the park.

“It was nice that it paid off.”

West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, meanwhile, has received an official reprimand and received one demerit point for breaching the ICC’s code of conduct during the defeat to England. Brathwaite was deemed to have shown dissent to an umpire’s decision following his dismissal in the 43rd over.

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