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|Fourth Investec Test: England v South Africa|
|Venue: Old Trafford Date: 4-8 August Time: 11:00 BST|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.|
Joe Root says he has experienced “all sides” of the England captaincy as he prepares for the fourth and final Test against South Africa at Old Trafford.
England have a 2-1 lead and are searching for their first home series win over the Proteas since 1998.
It has been a mixed series for the hosts, who followed up a dismal defeat at Trent Bridge with a win at The Oval.
“It was a leap into the unknown and it’s been a learning curve,” Root, 26, told BBC Radio 5 live.
“There’s been ups and downs and I’m sure there’ll be more. I’ve experienced all sides of it in a pretty short space of time. It’s been very enjoyable at times.”
Heavy rain forced both sides to train indoors on Thursday, which means Root has been unable to look at the wicket and finalise the team selection.
‘Stats are there to be rewritten’
England have a good record at Old Trafford, having won eight and lost just one of their past 12 Tests at the ground from 2000.
However, in the past nine series England have played, they have lost the final Test on eight occasions. That is a problem Root is determined to right.
“Stats are there to be rewritten. Hopefully this is a great opportunity for us to do just that,” he said.
“It is important we do take confidence from last week and try to make the most of that momentum and keep trying to drive the thinking forward of the way we approach that first innings in particular. The challenge for us is making sure we don’t just expect things to happen.”
Root’s side have yet to put together a complete performance, twice collapsing with the bat at Trent Bridge as South Africa hit back following their loss in the opening Test at Lord’s.
“We saw South Africa respond well at Trent Bridge. We need to make sure we’re right on from the first ball tomorrow,” added Root.
“We’ve done great in terms of how we’ve gone about training. It’s important we take the momentum from last week into this one.”
Root impressed by ‘mature’ Jennings
Opener Keaton Jennings has struggled throughout the series, scoring just 92 runs in six innings, including ducks at The Oval and Trent Bridge.
The Durham batsman made his highest score of the series – 48 from 78 balls, including nine boundaries – in the second innings at The Oval, and Root has been impressed by the 25-year-old’s attitude.
“You speak to him and the way he behaves around the rest of the side, you wouldn’t know if he’d come off the back of three hundreds or a couple of low scores,” Root said.
“I think that’s a great way to go about things. The way he has trained and prepared has been very mature, very professional. He’s a strong character.”
Jennings is the 11th player to open the batting for England since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012 and coach Trevor Bayliss has previously said the left-hander was “not secure” in his place in the side.
Asked if a player should be given an extra chance, Root said: “Ideally, yes. Sometimes that’s not always possible.
“Keaton has gone about things in the right way and he’s a fine player. He may have had a tough series but he deserves his opportunities.”
Root unsure of Old Trafford XI
Middlesex fast bowler Steven Finn remained with the squad following injury to Mark Wood, while spinner Liam Dawson is another option for Root if he opts to change a winning team.
“I’m keeping my cards close to my chest. It’s a call that will have to wait until 10:29 [on Friday],” the batsman said.
“Unfortunately, because of the covers being all over the outfield and the wicket, I’ve not been able to have a look. It’s difficult to make the decision without having a look at the surface.”
The weather forecast is better for the weekend, although heavy rain is expected on Monday.
“One thing we have spoken about is trying to be more consistent in the way we practise and the way we go about our training,” Root added.
“It’s something we wanted to focus on and make sure we’re giving ourselves the best opportunity, moving forwards. We’re looking to improve all the time.”
‘You can lose perspective’
South Africa have won two and drawn one of their past three series in England, with the hosts’ captain in each of those series resigning from the job either during or shortly afterwards.
Nasser Hussain stepped down after the first Test in 2003, Michael Vaughan gave up the role after the third Test in 2008 and Andrew Strauss retired from all cricket nine days after his side lost in 2012.
However, this series has seen England add fresh faces to their side, with batsmen Tom Westley and Dawid Malan, and bowler Toby Roland-Jones, all making their Test debuts.
“It is quite unusual to have so many new faces in the side at once. It makes the guys who have played a lot realise how special it is to play a Test match,” Root’s predecessor Alastair Cook told BBC Sport.
“You see the spark in their face, the enthusiasm they have, and the honour they feel for that moment – the proud moment – when they’re given their cap.
“If you’ve played a few Test matches you can sometimes lose perspective and think: ‘It’s just another tough day under pressure.’
“When you see the spark in their face you realise how lucky you are.”
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