Pitch perfect as Joe Root set to launch all-out England attack

Jimmy Anderson gets some practice at Trent Bridge yesterday. Picture: Getty.
Jimmy Anderson gets some practice at Trent Bridge yesterday. Picture: Getty.
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Joe Root senses his pedigree seam attack will have conditions that suit them against South Africa on their return to a favourite hunting ground at Trent Bridge.

Stuart Broad will be back on his home turf today, for the first time in a Test since the greatest performance of his career – his eight for 15 in England’s Ashes-clinching innings victory over Australia two years ago.

He stood up mightily on that occasion, without the assistance for once of the injured Jimmy Anderson, as Michael Clarke’s men were hustled out for 60 in 18.3 overs.

Root, pictured, has the chance to unleash both Broad and England’s all-time leading wicket-taker Anderson, along with Mark Wood and Ben Stokes also returning to the scene of that Ashes success, in an unchanged winning team for his second Test as captain.

England went 1-0 up on South Africa with a 211-run success at Lord’s, on a pitch made to measure not for the seamers on either side but the match-winning exploits of off-spinner Moeen Ali.

Here, on a pitch with plenty of grass left on, Root expects things to be different.

“It might be that the seamers play a bigger part this week, and that excites me,” he said.

“Broady, Jimmy, Woody and Stokesy only bowling a handful of overs in the second innings last week means they’re nice and fresh – and when they get the opportunity this week I hope they’re still fresh.”

Broad especially will doubtless be high on confidence as he bids for a 2015 follow-up.

“Stuart’s excited to get another opportunity to bowl here on his home ground,” added Root.

“We’ve played some good cricket here over the last four or five years and we want to make sure that continues this week.”

Anderson, 35 at the end of this month, has reached veteran status – and following injury niggles which have taken their toll at times over the past two years, he notably limited himself to just a short bowling stint in the nets during England’s two days of practice at a venue where he has almost always excelled.

Root trusts the paceman to get his preparation right.

“He knows his body,” he said. “He’s had a couple of injury issues over the last year, and he’s being smart with the way he practises.

“He knows what he’s doing because he’s done it for such a long time now, and he will be desperate to do well when he gets his opportunity.”

England must increasingly manage Anderson’s physical well-being and workload as they try to ensure they get the most out of him at an advanced stage of his outstanding career.

Root added: “I think it’s really important Jimmy is smart in looking after his body, and the way he’s gone about it this week has been just that.

“When he has bowled he’s been right on it and got the most out of it. He’s got plenty in the tank for when we start tomorrow.”

England’s new captain has great confidence in a team whose victory at Lord’s followed a seven-month break in their Test match schedule and four previous defeats in India under his predecessor Alastair Cook.

He concedes, none the less, that one victory so far is merely an encouraging start.

“I think we’re in great shape,” he said. “(But) consistency is always something you strive for as a side, and we definitely want to make sure we make this start count.

“We performed brilliantly last week, and it’s important we keep that hunger and really drive forward as a team and keep improving… set the tone with whatever we do tomorrow morning and drive that forward throughout the rest of the game.”

Root’s first-innings 190 was a key contribution at Lord’s, where Cook also came up with a crucial half-century second time round – but his opening partner Keaton Jennings and No 3 Gary Ballance, returning after being dropped last winter, had to settle for top scores of 33 and 34 respectively.

“They’re desperate to do well, and the way they played in that second innings was worth at least double,” said Root.

“On a very difficult wicket they did really well, and when they get their opportunity this week they will want to make it count.”