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Preview: Will Fraine expects big things from Joe Root's England

— 11 January 2021

Will Fraine is expecting big things from Joe Root’s England side ahead of what promises to be a memorable year of Test Match cricket.

England begin a busy schedule with a two-Test series in Sri Lanka on Thursday (4.30am UK) before home and away series against powerhouses India, a home series against Pakistan, a possible World Test Championship final and an away Ashes series at the end of the year.

Root and co have it all to do to reach the World Test Championship final, due to take place at Lord’s in June.

England are currently fourth in the table behind leaders Australia, India and newly crowned world number one side New Zealand.

It would take a seriously impressive run of form for England to qualify for the final as things stand, maybe even replicating what Kane Williamson’s Kiwis have just done to become the ICC’s top ranked side – win six Tests in a row.

But Yorkshire batsman Fraine would not be surprised to see them get on a roll, starting in Galle.

  • “They definitely have the makings of being the best side in the world,” said Fraine, of Root’s troops. “And I think they’re pretty close.

    “We have the best opening bowlers in the world at the moment (Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad), and some young guys who are only going to keep improving in Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Pope and Bessy. Then there’s Stokes, Rooty, Buttler and Archer.

    “The squad they have is very strong, and there’s strength below that, which is a huge credit to the work being done in the county game.

    “The great thing about England is that they have so much improvement in them, but you still wouldn’t be surprised if they got on a roll immediately and went and won in Sri Lanka and India. That would really set the year up.

    “If they don’t, people shouldn’t panic. It will happen for them in time.”

    Fraine expects England, who have actually won their last three series, to “get the job done” in Sri Lanka, where there will be significant Yorkshire interest in the form of Root, new signing Dom Bess and recalled Jonny Bairstow.

    With six Tests in spin friendly conditions of Sri Lanka and India over the next couple of months, before he returns to begin a four-year deal with the White Rose, Fraine believes off-spinner Bess will be a better developed cricketer than the one he was when he put pen to paper on his Emerald Headingley contract in September.

    “Bessy is a really big prospect, and his worth ethic and love for the game is exceptional,” said Fraine.

    “He’s a year younger than me (23) and has improved massively.

    “I remember when I was a county trialist, I played for the Combined Universities side against him in a second-team game. The summer after (2018), he played for England. It’s amazing, and credit to him.

    “He’s a very wily bowler who knows exactly what he wants and where he wants to get to.

    “I know he’ll work so hard over the next few months, and bowling against the very best in Sri Lanka and, more so, India, he will come on leaps and bounds.

    “That’s great for England and for us. We can’t wait to have him around.”

  • While Root and Bess are certain starters this week, as long as injury or illness does not strike, Bairstow is not.

    He has been recalled back into the fold having played the last of his 70 Tests in December 2019 on tour in South Africa.

    His last century came in Sri Lanka – at Colombo – in November 2018, helping England to a series win on that tour.

    “Jonny is so talented that he’s capable of anything,” said Fraine.

    “I haven’t actually played alongside him in a game yet, but I’ve seen his character in training and the lads say a lot of positive stuff about him.

    “The last time he went to Sri Lanka, he did well. He got a brilliant hundred, which I remember watching. It was quite an emotional one with a lot of people doubting him.

    “If he gets a go again, there’s no reason why he can’t do well and go on to achieve the world in Test cricket.”

    It is somewhat surprising that Fraine has never actually taken to the field with Bairstow having been at Yorkshire for two years now.

    “I’ve 12th-manned with him,” he continued. “When he came back this summer for those couple of Bob Willis games, I lost my place to him. He came in at Trent Bridge, and I dropped out.

    “But if I hadn’t have played in the T20s this year, I would have gone two years without playing alongside Rooty as well. It’s mad when you think about it like that.”

  • Root has recently spoken about his hopes of this year being a defining one for him as a captain and a batsman.

    “Rooty is England captain for a reason,” added Fraine.

    “He’s probably the best cricketer Yorkshire have produced in a long, long time.

    “He was such a calming presence when he came back to us for the T20s this summer, and he showed how good he is in all three formats. He was the anchor in our team and allowed the likes of myself, Harry Brook and Jordan Thompson to play with the freedom we did.

    “He has the same presence with England as well. It’s not just about the runs he scores.

    “As a batter, every time you walk out to bat you wish you could score a hundred. But that’s not the way the game works.

    “I know he hasn’t scored a Test hundred for a while, but it’s only a matter of time. But it’s not just about that. His leadership is so important as well.

    “He plays spin well, and this could be the series which sees him back to his best.”

    2021 International Ticket go on general sale tomorrow (Tuesday)

    The remaining tickets for this summer’s Emerald Headingley internationals will go on general sale at 10am tomorrow (Tuesday).

    England face Pakistan in Headingley’s first ever T20 international Sunday July 18 (2.30pm). It is the second fixture of a three-match series.

    They then host India in the third of five Test Matches from Wednesday 25 to Sunday 29 August (11am).

    Following incredibly popular priority windows and ballot, only limited tickets remain for both fixtures, with many buyers carrying over their tickets from the cancelled 2020 internationals.

    Only premium seats and hospitality remains for the Pakistan IT20, whilst there is very limited availability on each of the four days of the India Test.

    To purchase, visit the ticket page on our website.