England captain Joe Root has been inspired to "do something special" during the next Ashes series against Australia after watching 'The Test'.

Root, like the rest of the United Kingdom, is in lockdown in a measure aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

With plenty of downtime, Root has started watching the Amazon docuseries 'The Test', which follows the fortunes of Australia's cricket team across eight episodes and culminates in the 2019 Ashes in England.

That series ended in a 2-2 draw, resulting in the tourists retaining the urn, and Root is now even more fired up for the next Ashes between the two countries in 2021-22.

"I resisted watching it for a good while but, having exhausted a lot of the shows I wanted to watch, it has come around," Root said on a conference call with reporters on Monday.

"It has been a good motivator to get back on the bike and incentivise myself.

"It goes without saying that the World Test Championship is very important and each game holds a huge amount of weight as we try and get into that final [scheduled for June 2021]. But a lot of things we do revolve around planning for that Ashes series.

"We have around 17-20 games until we go there and play - if all are played - and we have to use every opportunity to be ready for what those conditions throw at us, what Australia throw at us on and off the field.

"We need to use this time to ready ourselves to do something special because we know how challenging it can be to play there."

England were due to be in Sri Lanka now for a two-Test series, but they returned home as sporting events started to get cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Root's team are due to face West Indies and Pakistan in home Test series in the coming months, though they would appear in doubt too.

There have been reports that the Sri Lanka trip could be rearranged prior to England's five-Test tour of India in 2021 and Root is mindful about burnout for his squad.

"It would be a very tough winter, a huge amount of workload, especially on the multi-format players, but we have had some tough winters in the past and found ways to get through them," he added.

"It would be interesting to see how they would fit it in looking at the schedule right now but if it was to go ahead, we would have to be able to adapt, look at the squad sizes we take over and make sure guys weren't blown out and overworked."

 Joe Root says there is "an element of relief" that England's Test series in Sri Lanka was postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Friday it had made the decision to return its players to the United Kingdom after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket.

England were due to play two Test matches in Sri Lanka, starting in Galle on March 19.

The ECB said the "physical and mental well-being of our players" is its priority and captain Root has backed the call to abandon the tour.

"The right decision has been made," he told Sky Sports. "There was an element of relief. You could see looking at the players that their minds were elsewhere, thinking about people back home.

"Now that we can go and look after families and be with loved ones, that's put a lot of guys at ease." 

England's second warm-up fixture with a SLC Board President's XI was abandoned on Friday when news of the Tour cancellation was announced. 

"Naturally there was a lot of talk in the dressing room and it got to a stage where it overshadowed the cricket," Root said. 

"Looking at how quickly things have happened at home, you're thinking about family and friends who might be a bit more vulnerable and that's hard when you're a long way away. 

"It was clear it was getting in the way of performance and affecting the mental well-being of the guys." 

Joe Root has revealed England will fist bump rather shake hands during their tour of Sri Lanka due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Illness swept through the England camp during a successful recent tour of South Africa.

Captain Root says they will be taking no chances in Sri Lanka, where they start a two-match Test series in Galle on March 19.

Speaking before England boarded the plane for their latest tour, the batsman said: "After South Africa we are well aware of the importance of keeping contact to a minimum and we've been given some really sound and sensible advice from our medical team to help prevent spreading germs and bacteria.

"We are not shaking hands with each other – using instead the well-established fist bump – and we are washing hands regularly and wiping down surfaces using the antibacterial wipes and gels we've been given in our immunity packs.

"There is no suggestion that the tour will be affected.

"But of course, it is an evolving situation, so we are in regular contact with the authorities and will proceed as advised."

Joe Root believes the sky is the limit for England as a Test team after they completed a 3-1 series win in South Africa.

England wrapped up the series with a 191-run victory in the fourth Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Monday.

The triumph marks England's first series success since a 3-0 sweep of Sri Lanka in November 2018.

Dom Sibley, playing in only his second Test series, top-scored for England with 324 runs, forming an opening partnership with another new boy in Zak Crawley.

Ollie Pope scored two half-centuries and his first century while spinner Dom Bess vindicated his selection with a crucial six-wicket performance in the third Test. 

With so many young players contributing to an impressive victory, captain Root is confident there is a lot more to come from his side.

"Very special indeed. It's taken a lot," Root said of the win at the post-match presentation. "To pick ourselves up and play the way we have done in the last three games is extremely pleasing.

"It's been a real squad effort from a number of guys that are very much at the start of their international careers.

"The sky's the limit for us now, we have to keep looking to get better. It's been a fantastic series for our development as a Test team."

Ben Stokes won the man of the series award, having played an instrumental role, most notably in the second Test in Cape Town, where he scored 119 runs, claimed six catches and took a match-winning 3-35 in South Africa's second innings. 

He also struck a century in the third Test and finished the series with 12 catches, the most of any fielder, his performance coming after his father was rushed to hospital days before the series.

"The most important thing is that we're walking away with a series win," Stokes said. "It's been a bit of a rollercoaster.

"I hope the old man is in his hospital bed watching this with a big smile on his face."

Mark Wood was the key figure in England's fourth Test win, taking nine wickets in the match and also forming the highest 10th-wicket partnership at the Wanderers as he and Stuart Broad combined for 82 to push the tourists to 400.

Man of the match Wood had not expected to play in the series finale, but he was included after elbow soreness led to Jofra Archer's omission.

The seamer, who has frequently battled injuries in his career, said: "There was a bit of doubt going in but boy am I glad I played now.

"I'm over the moon. I've had a lot of dark days, credit to the backroom staff, everyone's so supportive, [head coach] Chris Silverwood tries to get me to have fun."

Describing his approach, he added: "I give it everything I've got, run in hard for the captain, as much energy as I can, and let it fly."

England wrapped up a comprehensive 3-1 series win over South Africa as their bowlers sealed a 191-run victory on day four of the fourth Test at The Wanderers.

Rassie van der Dussen agonisingly missed out on his first Test century as England took 10 wickets on Monday in Johannesburg to complete the win with a day to spare.

Chasing a world-record target of 466 in the fourth Test, South Africa had made a solid start on day four before losing captain Faf du Plessis (35) and Van der Dussen (98) in the last 10 minutes before tea.

That dropped the Proteas from 181-2 to 187-4 and England quickly got rid of the home side's lower order in the final session for a third consecutive triumph, Mark Wood (4-54) ending with nine wickets in the match.

England cemented their dominance of the fourth Test with South Africa as they closed day three with a 465-run lead in Johannesburg.

After bowling the hosts out for 183, Mark Wood claiming a five-for, England opted against enforcing the follow-on and instead built on their 217-run first-innings advantage.

Captain Joe Root led the way with a 58, his wicket bringing the tourists' fun to an end as Faf du Plessis took a stunning one-handed catch to give Beuran Hendricks 5-64 on his Test debut.

That afforded the Proteas some joy on an otherwise frustrating day and they will return on Monday needing to complete a world-record chase to avoid a 3-1 series defeat.

South Africa resumed on 88-6 on Sunday and facing an uphill struggle which became all the harder when Vernon Philander fell in the first full over of the day in his final Test outing.

Chris Woakes claimed that scalp and Ben Stokes accounted for the stubborn Dwaine Pretorius (37), but it was the impressive Wood (5-46) who took the key wicket of Quinton de Kock for 76.

Dane Paterson was Wood's final victim as South Africa's dismal innings came to an end, England deciding to bat and doing so for the remainder of the day.

Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley enjoyed a 107-run opening stand in the first innings and managed 56 this time before Pretorius dismissed the former. 

Joe Denly was out cheap to Paterson when he inside-edged onto his own stumps, while Sibley went for a patient 44.

There was some typically ambitious hitting in a 24-ball Ben Stokes cameo that yielded 28 runs and six boundaries, while Root had been steadily edging towards his half-century as partners came and went at regular intervals.

Wood added to his bowling exploits with 18 runs from 12 balls and Root was the last man to fall, Du Plessis showing superb athleticism and incredible handling to grasp a fast-moving ball down low to his right.

England became the first team to score 500,000 Test runs on the first day of the fourth Test with South Africa, which saw the tourists' strong start curtailed by a final-session fightback from the Proteas.

Joe Root's men were dealt a blow before winning the toss with the news that paceman Jofra Archer would be unable to play at the Wanderers because of elbow soreness.

Having seen his side take command of the third Test in Port Elizabeth with a dominant first-innings batting display, Root elected to give his charges the same opportunity, and openers Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley laid an excellent foundation.

Crawley was in fluent form as he scored his first half-century for his country but England slumped to 157-4 after the first-wicket stand of 107 was broken. 

Root (25 not out) and Ollie Pope (22 not out) steadied the ship, the former seeing England to the half-a-million milestone as they reached 192-4 before bad light stopped play.

After falling six runs short of a fifty at St George's Park, Crawley made no mistake in Johannesburg in a stylish innings that featured 11 boundaries, combining with Sibley for England's first century opening stand since December 2016.

Crawley's maiden international 50 was brought up in more fortuitous fashion with a thick edge through point but Sibley, having successfully reviewed an lbw decision and been given a reprieve by a no-ball, was not so lucky.

A centurion in the second match in Cape Town, Sibley was strangled down the leg side on 44 as Beuran Hendricks claimed a wicket on his Test debut.

Vernon Philander then ensured he will end his final Test with a wicket as Crawley presented a simple catch to Rassie van der Dussen, who made another grab at slip to end a difficult 35-ball spell at the crease for Joe Denly (27).

South African hopes of an England collapse were given a significant boost when talisman Ben Stokes fell to Anrich Nortje for just two, the all-rounder's attempt at a drive seeing him send another straight to Van der Dussen.

Stokes was involved in a verbal altercation with a fan as he left the field but, while England will now have to wait to see if he faces any repercussions from that, in terms of the match their position was improved as Root and Pope provided stability.

They did so in confident fashion. Root surpassed 7,500 Test runs with a pull through midwicket for four and his single through the covers took England to the historic 500,000 mark.

The fading light saw the fifth-wicket partnership interrupted on 35 and, though England have plenty of batting to come, Root and Pope will know that stretching their stand well into day two will go a long way to sealing a 3-1 series victory.

Joe Root would rank a series win over South Africa as his greatest achievement as England Test captain and believes the "sky is the limit" for his young side.

England head into the fourth and final Test at the Wanderers - which starts on Friday - with a 2-1 lead, having already extended their unbeaten run in away Test series against the Proteas to four.

The tourists have been hit hard by both illness and injuries in South Africa, with James Anderson, Jack Leach and Rory Burns having all returned to England, while paceman Jofra Archer missed the last two Tests with an elbow issue.

Given the circumstances, Root says beating the Proteas in their own backyard would probably go down as his most satisfying accomplishment since taking over as skipper almost three years ago.

"It's been a tour that has thrown everything at us," Root told reporters. "But the whole squad, the players and the coaching staff, have worked tirelessly to make sure we stayed calm and as in control as we could.

"When we've had our opportunities to bounce back, we've really taken them. It's been really pleasing in many ways.

"We're a very young side at the start of something and we've seen some very promising performances. To win three Tests in a row would be a very big achievement for this group.

"A series win here probably would be my proudest achievement as captain, because of the different things we've had to manage throughout this tour.

"We've had injuries and senior players having to fly home and a lot of illness to deal with and we have adapted to very different conditions.

"For a young group of players that has been very pleasing and a sign we're doing the right things. If we can harness that and keep looking to improve then I do think the sky's the limit for this team.

"But we're very much at the start of something here and we're not perfect by any means. We have to keep that attitude and keep driving that forward for a long period of time if we want to get to number one in the world."

Mark Wood came into the side for the third Test and it remains to be seen if he will be able to play back-to-back matches with Archer pushing for a recall.

"It would be nice to see how Archer and Wood go together," Root said.

"It would be a relentless barrage of pace. It would be great to have that extra bit of pace and firepower, but ultimately we've got to hit the right areas as we have done in the last couple of games."

Joe Root believes England are in a great place after their youngsters continued to shine in a crushing third-Test victory over South Africa at St George’s Park.

After being delayed by a last-wicket partnership of 99 from Keshav Maharaj and Dane Paterson, England got over the line to comprehensively win by an innings and 53 runs in Port Elizabeth on Monday.

That put the tourists 2-1 up in the four-match series, having successfully followed up their dramatic victory at Newlands.

Ollie Pope made his first Test century, top scoring with 135 not out in England's 499-9 declared, before Dom Bess (5-51) claimed a maiden five-wicket Test haul as the Proteas were dismissed for 209 in their first innings.

Dom Sibley had starred with a century in Cape Town and Root is thrilled to see his young players thrive.

"We've had four guys under 25 making hundreds or taking five-fors and that's a great place to be," England captain Root said after taking 4-87 in South Africa's second innings.

"We want to keep continuing to provide an environment where that becomes possible and keep giving those guys that confidence to make sure when they get that opportunity they can fulfil it as they have done here.

"That's what it's about, it's not going to be the same guys every week. It's about collectively doing your role within the team. We've got a very good squad of players, there's a couple of very good players who aren't in this XI, and that's a really exciting place to be as well.

"When guys are really stepping up to the plate, especially at a young age, and showing they can perform at this level, that’s going to fill everyone with a huge amount of confidence. 

"Ollie batted beautifully with Stokesy [Ben Stokes], a brilliant partnership which really put us in a commanding position and the way Bessy bowled was fantastic that first innings. 

"From that point on we always felt we were in control of things. We go into a massive game next week feeling we are in a really nice spot."

The last Test of the series begins in Johannesburg on Friday and Root acknowledged England must continue to react to changing conditions.

He added: "We've adapted quickly so far. We learned our lessons very quickly from Centurion and made sure we figured out a method that was going to be successful at Cape Town and stuck to it really well. Similarly here. 

"It'll be exactly the same in Joburg. It'll be very different, different challenges for both batters and bowlers. 

"We must make sure we are very disciplined in how we set up and approach the conditions."

England eased to a first innings win away from home in more than nine years after dismissing a stubborn South Africa tail on the final morning of the third Test.

The tourists' opening spell was not as devastating as the Sunday burst that saw the final four first-innings wickets fall for just a single run, but victory was never in doubt, a 2-1 series lead secured in dominant fashion.

Starting on 102-6 - still 188 runs behind - Stuart Broad got Vernon Philander (13) with the third ball of the day, before Kagiso Rabada followed after a brief show of resilience.

Dom Bess removed Anrich Nortje for five, and although Keshav Maharaj disrupted England's rhythm with a slew of boundaries, ending on 71, a 99-run stand for the 10th wicket concluded with his run-out.

South Africa eventually succumbed by an innings and 53 runs, with the January 2011 defeat of Australia in Sydney the last time England triumphed away from home without needing to bat a second time.

Any Proteas hope of frustrating England early in the day were initially tempered as Philander's inside edge popped up off his pad for a stretching Ollie Pope to take his sixth catch of the match at short midwicket.

Rabada, suspended for the fourth Test, looked to depart the series in style, quickly moving to 16 off 24 balls. But his exit to Mark Wood was a feeble chip to Broad at mid-on with less than half an hour played.

Bess, who claimed 5-51 in the first innings, then took his first wicket of the second with a quicker delivery through Nortje into middle and off, while Joe Root's (4-87) bid for a first career five-for continued against South Africa's final pairing.

Maharaj and Dane Paterson (39 not out) improbably provided the Proteas' most prolific partnership of the innings by far, the former having some fun with consecutive sixes in a Root over that brought 28 runs - tying the record in the longest format.

A second Test fifty soon arrived for Maharaj, who showed no signs of slowing, a maiden century moving into view.

But he could not quite get there with the final wicket summing up the South Africa display, Maharaj well short of his crease with Sam Curran firing in a direct hit from mid-on.

The fourth Test in Johannesburg starts on January 24.

Mark Wood joked England captain Joe Root had pulled rank on the way to achieving his Test-best bowling figures on day four of the third Test against South Africa at St George's Park.

The tourists' skipper poached 4-31 after Wood struck twice as South Africa's sorry batsmen, following on after a first-innings morning collapse, slumped to 102-6 at stumps on Sunday - trailing by 188 runs.

Root's off-spin caused chaos, taking his lead from Dom Bess, who grabbed five wickets in the Proteas' first knock but had a supporting role second time around.

Wood, playing his first competitive match since England's Cricket World Cup final triumph over New Zealand last July, quipped that Root used his authority to take centre stage in Port Elizabeth.

"He bowled himself at the right end, didn't he!" the paceman said. "Put young Bessy on at the non-spinning end and he got the spinning end. So captain's not stupid is he!

"I feel like he does get key wickets when he bowls. He's been working on it a lot in the nets. As a group we're really pleased for him. Hopefully he gets the 'five-for' tomorrow."

Root had only taken four wickets in a match once before, a 4-5 haul in a winning cause for Yorkshire against Roses rivals Lancashire in 2018.

Wood, however, is no stranger to big performances with the ball, but spending another long spell out of action has been frustrating for the 30-year-old Durham paceman.

"I've waited quite a while to come back in," he said, after taking 2-23. "I'm trying to have fun, trying to play with a smile on my face and take it all in.

"Before the game I wasn't sure how it was going to go. I hadn't played any practice matches, I didn't have any of that match fitness. I was probably a little bit tired at the end of today but all in all I think I've stood up well physically."

Wood suffered his side injury with three balls remaining of his 10-over allocation in the World Cup final, which he called a "dream game".

"I didn't want to limp off after 9.3 overs," he said, stressing bowling on had been a risk worth taking. "I wouldn't swap that for the world. To be a World Cup winner, I'd take that any day of the week.

"Even if I didn't play another game of Test cricket, I've always got that to look back on with great memories and think that was the pinnacle of my career."

Joe Root produced the finest bowling performance of his England career on day four of the third Test to put the tourists within sight of victory over South Africa at St George's Park.

Surely only rain can save the hosts now, with a mixed forecast for the final day in Port Elizabeth, where England need only four wickets to take a 2-1 lead with one match to play.

Root had never taken more than two wickets in a Test, but the captain snagged 4-31 in 19 overs on Sunday after Mark Wood struck twice to leave South Africa 102-6 in their second innings, still trailing by 188 runs.

Part-time off-spinner Root only had one previous four-wicket haul, the 4-5 he took to steer Yorkshire to a County Championship victory against Lancashire at Old Trafford in July 2018.

England were already in command and they pressed home their advantage on day four, with 10 South Africa wickets falling for just 103 runs.

South Africa had a wretched morning, losing four wickets for just one run to slump from 208-6 to 209 all out. England had no hesitation in enforcing the follow-on.

Vernon Philander and Quinton de Kock were 54 runs into a seventh-wicket stand at stumps on the previous evening, but that partnership was swiftly broken.

Both men went the same way, bowled through the gate, with Stuart Broad (3-30) cleaning up Philander and Sam Curran delighting at removing De Kock (63).

Keshav Maharaj chopped on to give Broad his second wicket of the morning, before a third followed for the paceman when Kagiso Rabada chipped straight to Wood at mid-off.

South Africa were 15-0 in their second innings when rain arrived to provide respite, with three hours lost.

Eight balls into the resumption came another blow to the Proteas, Wood piercing Dean Elgar's defences and tearing his off stump out of the ground.

Wood (2-23) struck again when a leg-side snick from the struggling Zubayr Hamza was gratefully received by Jos Buttler.

Sliced and diced by England's quicks, South Africa found the tourists' spinners almost unplayable too, with Dom Bess keeping a tight line, but Root rampant.

Root pinned Pieter Malan lbw for 12 - the opener having faced 79 balls for those runs - and then prised out Rasse van der Dussen when Ollie Pope took off from short leg to grab a spectacular leaping catch.

Van der Dussen had survived a string of scares against Root, most notably when he successfully reviewed an lbw decision, and his time had been coming.

De Kock's bad day got even worse, a horribly sliced hoik at Root looping up for Wood to clutch a tremendous catch above his head at point.

And Root had a fourth victim when Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis (36) got a big inside edge into his pads and the ball looped up for Pope to collect.

South Africa need to find something big on day five to save face, and avoid going to Johannesburg needing a victory to draw the series. The skies offer their best hope.

England skipper Joe Root prompted confusion and hilarity on day two of the third Test with South Africa as he withdrew a declaration after a wicket was ruled out due to a no-ball.

When Mark Wood was caught at mid-on off Kagiso Rabada to seemingly leave England 467-9, Root called a halt to his side's first innings at Port Elizabeth.

However, replays then showed Rabada had over-stepped, prompting Root to reverse his decision and instead advise his side to carry on batting.

Wood and Ollie Pope, who had earlier completed his maiden Test century, made the most of the bizarre situation by plundering a further 31 runs - in addition to the run England received for Rabada's no-ball - in quick time.

After racing to 42 from 23 balls, Wood eventually holed out to deep midwicket off Keshav Maharaj (5-180) and England declared on 499-9, with Pope 135 not out.

Ben Stokes (120) had also reached three figures for the tourists prior to lunch as they kicked on superbly from an overnight score of 224-4.

Mark Wood was named in England's side for the third Test against South Africa, with Jofra Archer once again unavailable.

Captain Joe Root opted to give the fit-again Wood the nod to replace James Anderson, who sustained a rib injury in the Ben Stokes-inspired victory in Cape Town that levelled the four-match series at 1-1.

Paceman Archer missed out in Port Elizabeth as he continues to battle a troublesome elbow problem, while Wood earned a place over Chris Woakes, who was also in contention.

"Jofra pulled up a little sore with his elbow, but credit to Woody, he's fit and firing and that's an exciting place to be, and two guys up around 90mph is an exciting place for England cricket," Root said. 

"We need to make sure we back up [Cape Town] well."

Wood last played a competitive fixture in England's thrilling Cricket World Cup final victory over New Zealand in July and underwent knee surgery after the tournament.

The paceman's last Test match was against the West Indies in St Lucia 11 months ago, but Wood insisted he is raring to go.

"I went to La Manga with James Anderson then the fast bowlers' camp. There've been question marks about my fitness, but that last game [in St Lucia] gives me confidence," he said. 

"Short, sharp burst, four-five overs, give it everything I've got. The outfield is quite green so [you have] got to be clever working on the ball and look after it well."

England captain Joe Root pledged not to take any risks over the fitness of pace bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood on the eve of the third Test against South Africa.

A Ben Stokes-inspired England squared the four-match series at one apiece thanks to a thrilling victory on the final session in Cape Town eight days ago.

Glory came at a price, however, with James Anderson ruled out of the remainder of the tour due to a rib problem.

It means a potential opening for Wood or Archer – both of whom are capable of frequently topping 90 mph - providing their own injury complaints are in order.

Archer sat out the previous Test due to an elbow issue, while Wood has not played competitively since England's Cricket World Cup final win over South Africa in June.

"That decision hasn't been made," Root told a news conference, with regards to Anderson's replacement.

"It's important to use [Wednesday's] session and make sure we've got a really clear understanding of where everybody is at.

"We need to find that out and make sure we're really clear going into a five-day game that they are able to stand up to the challenges that will bring, physically and mentally, having not played for a little while.

"It is the sensible thing to do to hold off, get more information on the pitch and more information on where they're at.

"If they've proven themselves to be fit, if they've jumped through every hoop and worked very hard to get back there, you have to give them that opportunity."

Chris Woakes represents an alternative if England opt not to chance Archer or Wood, but there is no doubt selecting either of the speed merchants carries added allure.

Wood's most recent Test outing saw him claim first-innings figures of 5-41 thanks to a searing spell before being named man of the match in a 232-run demolition of West Indies in St Lucia.

"With Mark, if you look at the last summer of cricket he played, he actually got through a lot of cricket injury-free which is testament to how hard he's worked on his rehab and making sure his body can cope with different things. He's been managed well by the medical staff," Root said.

"The reason we've been quite cautious in terms of rushing him back is that history. If he's 100 per cent, bowling at 90mph-plus, the skills he has at that pace are going to cause problems and will be a great asset in Test cricket."

Root confirmed a specialist spinner will feature in the England attack in Port Elizabeth, with Dom Bess expected to keep his place ahead of the uncapped Matt Parkinson after Jack Leach returned home due to illness.

England's difference-maker could once again be Stokes, who was honoured by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as its Player of the Year after a phenomenal 2019 in red and white-ball formats.

"It is hard to say any more superlatives, it is the right decision and it could not really have been anyone else," his captain added.

"The way he has performed across all the formats has been fantastic. In my opinion he is definitely the leading player in the world at the moment."

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