England's Root proud of 'amazing journey' ahead of 100th Test

London (AFP) –


England captain Joe Root said he had been on an "amazing journey" as prepared to play in his 100th Test.

Root will become just the 15th England cricketer to reach the landmark when he leads the side out in their series opener against India in Chennai on Friday.

He will do so on the back of two commanding innings, with the 30-year-old Yorkshire batsman having made 228 and 186 during England's recent 2-0 series clean sweep in Sri Lanka.

One criticism of Root in a fine Test career that started nearly nine years ago in India at Nagpur is that while he has scored an impressive 8,249 runs at an average of over 49, his 68 innings of fifty or more have 'only' led to 19 centuries.

"It's eluded me a few times with the bat so I'm really proud to be on the eve of playing a hundred Tests," Root told reporters Wednesday. "It's been an amazing journey up to now.

"There are some fantastic players among that (England) list, many I've looked up to and admired for many years. It's been amazing also to have shared a dressing room with a number of them as well."

- 'Selfish' -

And with Root a batsman in an England side where 38-year-old James Anderson is still looking to add to his tally of 157 Test appearances in the more physically demanding role of opening bowler, the skipper could remain in the international arena for a long time yet.

"I hope it's not near the end! I still feel like there's a lot left in me at the moment and there's certainly a burning desire to keep going and play as long as I can," said Root.

And those determined innings in Sri Lanka may have seen Root find the way to fuse the roles of captain and star batsman for the overall good of the team.

"In the last two games, in the nicest way possible, I've tried to be a bit more selfish with my batting," he said.

"It's a bit more single-minded, knowing if I bat for a long period of time I make big runs and it's obviously going to benefit the team. It's sounds simple and you might ask why has it taken you 99 games to figure it out?

"But I'm just desperate for us to do well collectively and that's naturally how I've always tried to think about the game."

England are set to have all-rounder Ben Stokes and fast bowler Jofra Archer back in their side for the first of four Tests against India after the pair were rested from the Sri Lanka series.

"You know what Ben is like, he gets the ball in his hand, try to take it out," Root said of his vice-captain and close friend's willingness to bowl.

"If he gets on a bit of a roll and feels like he can really turn a game, it is very difficult to get the ball back.

"I also had the displeasure of facing Jofra in the nets and he bowled at the speed of light. He looked in great rhythm. If he can harness that into this series he's going to have great success."