Final Test at Lords is crucial for Joe Root

Joe Root in training

The final Test at Lord’s will have a pivotal impact for all concerned as Sheffield’s Joe Root seeks to end his maiden summer as England captain on a winning note and West Indies have a shot at their first series success in this country since 1988.

The once mighty Windies have gone seven series in England without victory, and last won even a single Test here in 2000 before last week’s shock five-wicket triumph at Headingley.

Jason Holder’s tourists therefore have an unexpected chance to prevail where so many predecessors have failed - while for Root, it will be a critical bottom line whether he adds a 2-1 victory or defeat here to England’s 3-1 winning margin against South Africa.

No-one can quibble with Root’s own output, of course, as he goes in search of a world-record 13th consecutive Test with at least one half-century against his name.

He has been his own biggest critic of late, citing the need to turn more of those 50s into centuries.

Asked about the prospect of going above AB de Villiers as the outright holder of the record for consecutive matches with half-centuries, Root said: “I would much rather it be hundreds. Of course you want to be consistent, always contributing, but definitely I would like to convert a little bit more. I hope if I get to a half-decent score, kick on and make a bigger one.”

There are more vexed issues for England - and three times, while pondering those concerning Tom Westley’s travails at number three or the inclusion of Toby Roland-Jones on his home ground at the expense of Chris Woakes as third seamer, Root prefaced his answer with the phrase: “It is a difficult one.”

Holder, meanwhile, has been urging his team to remain “professional” as they prepare for a “momentous” match, despite thoughts inevitably extended to compatriots affected by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean.

Events 4,000 miles away are life-threatening, with the islands of Antigua and Jamaica among those in the path of the fiercest recorded Caribbean storm.

Initial reports were reassuring, however, and Holder said: “Luckily I think it’s passed Antigua and those islands.

“But it’s obviously still going, and heading towards some other islands up the northern chain.

“We just urge (people there) to stay safe, take all the necessary precautions - and as much as we can do is pray for them as well.”

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