England beating Sri Lanka in Galle meant they secured their fifth-successive overseas Test victory, something they have not accomplished for more than a century.
The last time England achieved such a sequence was when they came from behind to defeat Australia 4-1 in the 1912-13 Ashes before prevailing in their opening three Tests in South Africa in 1914 en route to a 4-0 series triumph.
Here, the PA news agency looks at England’s most recent streak under Joe Root.
South Africa v England at Cape Town – January 3-7, 2020
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 7, 2021
There was discontent and even whispers about Root’s captaincy as England continued a trend of losing series openers after going down in the Boxing Day Test at Centurion. They rallied at Newlands, with Dom Sibley’s first Test ton – batting for 311 balls in his unbeaten 133 – and Ben Stokes’ buccaneering 72 from 43 deliveries batting South Africa out of the game. The hosts were obdurate in the last innings and were close to a draw, but Stokes took the last three wickets to spark euphoric scenes among the many travelling fans as England won by 189 runs.
South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth – January 16-20, 2020
The Test and the series as a whole was on a knife edge when England slipped to 148 for four after Kagiso Rabada clean bowled Root, but Stokes and Ollie Pope swung the balance in the tourists’ favour with a monumental 203-run stand. Pope reached his first Test hundred and Stokes his ninth as England declared on 499 for nine. Dom Bess – not even part of the original touring party – claimed his maiden five-wicket haul as South Africa were 209 all out in their first dig before Root, somewhat surprisingly, took four for 87 as England secured an innings-and-53-run win.
South Africa v England at Johannesburg – January 24-27, 2020
Some dashing blows from Mark Wood and Stuart Broad carried England to 400 all out before the former’s electrifying pace helped his side truly gain a stranglehold on proceedings at the Wanderers. The Durham paceman took just his second Test five-for as South Africa were left staring at a first-innings deficit of 217. England elected not to enforce the follow-on and eventually set their hosts a world-record chase of 466. Wood took another four wickets as England won by 191 runs to take the series 3-1, with question marks about Root’s position well and truly erased.
Sri Lanka v England at Galle – January 14-18, 2021
Loved every minute of my debut this week, great start from the lads!! pic.twitter.com/Es0ZqxUUz6
— Daniel Lawrence (@DanLawrence288) January 19, 2021
England came into this rearranged tour with plenty of confidence, having clean swept the Sri Lankans 3-0 on their most recent visit in late 2018. Root’s side had minimal preparation but found their opponents in obliging mood, bowled out for 135 following several rash strokes. Bess had a five-for despite, by his own admission, not bowling particularly well before Root’s magnificent 228 and Dan Lawrence’s 73 on debut ushering England to 421. Sri Lanka improved second time around but England overhauled a meagre total of 74 with seven wickets in hand following a brief wobble.
Sri Lanka v England at Galle – January 22-25, 2021
Real character from the boys and a fantastic series win! Thank you for all your support back home 🦌🏆 pic.twitter.com/DpgRMX0ULj
— Joe Root (@root66) January 25, 2021
The evergreen James Anderson took a scarcely-credible six for 40 on a lifeless track to restrict Sri Lanka to under 400 and another Root masterclass – he made 186 before being run out – helped England keep in touch. For the second time in the series, Sri Lanka imploded. While the seamers took all 10 wickets in the first innings, the spinners took the baton in the second with Jack Leach and Bess each finishing with four-fors and Root chipping in with two. Sibley ended a dismal tour with an unbeaten fifty as England chased down 164 with six wickets to spare.