Sheffield’s Joe Root is ready to dish out the verbals

editorial image

Joe Root admitted sledging could be back on the agenda as England look to force victory over the West Indies on a lifeless pitch in Grenada.

The hosts begin the final day of the second Test on 202 for two, with a lead of 37 and a big chance to force consecutive draws if they safely negotiate the second new ball.

There was precious little to raise English hopes on the fourth evening, as the pitch stubbornly failed to deteriorate and offered nothing by way of sideways movement.

Despite that England kept the verbals to a minimum, even when their tormentor-in-chief Marlon Samuels joined centurion Kraigg Brathwaite at the crease.

Samuels mocked England’s attempts to unsettle him with words as he scored a first-innings hundred and cheekily saluted his rival Ben Stokes when the all-rounder was dismissed cheaply on day three.

He had a surprisingly quiet time as he batted out to stumps, but Root cannot promise the same when battle resumes.

“Everyone was very well behaved tonight, there was no-one speaking up,” said Root at the close.

“We’ll see how it goes. It’s hot and hard work out there so concentration might come into it, and maybe a bit of banter could spice things up a bit.”

England would give anything for the pitch to be spiced up, having laboured for 75 overs with only the wickets of Devon Smith and Darren Bravo to show for it.

Having ground to a halt when pursuing the win in Antigua last week, something dramatic has to happen early on to prevent a repeat performance.

And for Root, the game could be won and lost on the new ball.

“These pitches are great for batters because we get big scores but as far as Test cricket is concerned, it’s not ideal,” he conceded.

“Unfortunately, it’s a very unresponsive pitch and it’s been hard work.

“We all thought it might break up a little bit more and give a little bit more spin than it has done, but unfortunately it hasn’t happened. This is what we’ve got to deal with, and we’ve just got to get on the best we can.

“With the new ball due in five overs, we’ll need a couple of early wickets. They’re not yet 40 ahead, so if it’s bang bang in the morning we’ve got a game on our hands.

“That would definitely give us the best chance of winning the game on a very flat wicket.

“Our only chance is wickets with the new ball, whether it be with seam or spin. That’s the way it looks at the moment, but you never know.”