Joe Root says competition for places will drive England forward against Windies and in the Ashes
Last Updated: 26/11/18 5:02pm
Joe Root says the stiff competition for places in England's Test side will drive them towards the top of the rankings following their 3-0 whitewash over Sri Lanka.
Ben Foakes has impressed in his maiden series as the side's wicketkeeper but Jonny Bairstow - who scored a century in Colombo in his first innings at No 3 - has made no secret of his desire to regain the gloves.
Moeen Ali, Jack Leach and Adil Rashid took a combined 48 wickets in the three-match series in Sri Lanka but will now be battling each other for spots in the Caribbean in January and in the Ashes at home next summer.
"Any side that is No 1 in the world has good players missing out and that's where we want to be," said Root, whose team now sit second in the Test rankings, behind India, having leapfrogged South Africa.
"We want to keep pushing, keep improving so guys are going to have to accept that on occasions they are going to miss out. Having that environment will keep driving guys in possession forward.
"It feels like we are in a good place but we can't be happy with where we are - we have a lot of hard work still to do.
"It has been great to see us grow as a group on this trip but we have to react to the new challenges ahead in the West Indies and beyond.
"We need to have an open mind as to the way we approach things, as we have done in Sri Lanka.
"If we have to change our method with the bat or our formula with the ball, we will be pushing India really hard."
England became only the third side, after India and Australia, to sweep a series 3-0 in Sri Lanka, with the three-pronged spin attack of Ali, Leach and Rashid proving key in a series in which 100 wickets fell to spin.
Root, Bairstow, Foakes and Keaton Jennings each scored centuries, with Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes contributing two vital fifties apiece.
"Because we have had to do things differently, I have had to drive that and make a point of it but it's very powerful when everyone buys into it," added Root, who is celebrating England's first away Test series win under his captaincy.
"It's easy to take all the credit for the way this group of players have played but without them and different players stepping up at different times, we wouldn't have performed as we have, regardless of what strategies and formulas we have put in place.
"It's been amazing how much [the ball] has turned - and the most pleasing thing is how quickly we have adapted. We have done things slightly different to the way we have in the past but that hasn't frightened us. We have played to our advantages.
"We have three wonderful spinners who complement each other really well, backed up by some very good seam bowling, whether hitting good areas with the new ball or being more aggressive with the short-pitched stuff.
"We have done things people might think are a bit radical but it has really worked for us. It will be great to recall these experiences to see what's worked and the lads should really be looking forward to that West Indies trip.
"If we can back up there what we have done here we will be in a great place heading into the English summer.
England's fine fielding contributed to their series victory, with Jennings starring at short leg, including taking six catches in the Colombo Test, and Stokes and Leach claiming crucial run outs.
Leach's came on the final day of the series when he removed Kusal Mendis with a direct hit from deep backward square to reduce Sri Lanka to 184-6 chasing 327 for an unlikely victory.
"We have definitely improved our fielding so that is a really pleasing thing for us," added Root, whose side dismissed Sri Lanka for 284 to win by 42 runs.
"Sometimes you need a bit of magic to change the game and in this series, we have had a few of those. We have taken some half chances we previously might not have.
"Guys like Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes drag people with them in the field - they set the example so you try to get them in key areas where the ball is going to go. It lifts the whole group."
Watch England's three-Test series in the Caribbean live on Sky Sports in January and February.