Joe Root could be set for a promotion to number three for England’s Test series against Pakistan, which begins this month.
England will be forced into a batting reshuffle after Nick Compton announced he will take a break from the game - and England coach Trevor Bayliss reckons the answer may already be among their ranks.
“Long term, I think Joe Root is our No 3,” said Bayliss. Rooty would have to want to do it - it’s a big change, and he’s done well at No 4.
“But my way of thinking is you put your best batter at number three.”
Root was rested for last night’s one-off T20 against Sri Lanka last night, after hitting 93 in a ODI series-clinching win at Cardiff on Saturday. Debutant Liam Dawson’s smart three-wicket haul set England en route to a comfortable eight-wicket victory at Southampton.
The Hampshire all-rounder returned tight figures of three for 27 from his four critical overs, before Jos Buttler’s career-best T20 score of 73 not out guided England home.
All the pre-match hype had focused on Sussex paceman Tymal Mills, and while the genuine express bowler offered variety and reliability, fellow newcomer Dawson stole the show.
On his home ground, the 26-year-old Dawson fully justified his selection.
Buttler opened England’s batting for the first time in white-ball cricket, and produced the innings of the day as England ensured Sri Lanka ended their tour without a victory in any format against the hosts.
Captain Eoin Morgan shrugged off a dislocated finger to compose a neat knock of 47, in an unbroken match-securing partnership of 114 with Buttler.
Liam Plunkett drew first blood, forcing Kusal Perera to edge a miscued pull straight to Mills at short fine leg.
Sri Lanka’s opener departed for 13 with the tourists 17 for one, before Kusal Mendis’ hefty six kick-started a 20-run haul from the sixth over.
Danushka Gunathilaka holed out to Jordan at long-off for 26, with Dawson delighting in his maiden international wicket.
Mendis stubbed a Dawson delivery straight back to the bowler after racking up a quickfire 21, handing the all-rounder his second victim.
Dawson then improved his strong debut this time clean bowling Mathews for 11, the tourists’ captainleft staring at his skittled stumps.
England struck again almost immediately as Jason Roy’s accurate throw ran out Dasun Shanaka for just one run, with Buttler removing the bails.
Ramith Rambukwella blasted Adil Rashid for a six then a four to bring up Sri Lanka’s 100, eventually plundering 14 runs from the over, but was run out for 19 by James Vince’s direct hit.
Plunkett then removed Seekkuge Prasanna for just one, caught behind by Buttler.
That left the tourists 122 for seven from 16 overs, before Mills finished his four overs with figures of no wickets for 22 runs.
Jordan forced Dinesh Chandimal to hole out to Eoin Morgan for 23, only for the England captain to leave the field wringing his hand. His replacement David Willey caught Farveez Maharoof for 10 to give Jordan his second wicket.
England’s death bowler then ended Sri Lanka’s innings, removing Nuwan Pradeep for a golden duck with an inch-perfect yorker.
England faltered in response, Jason Roy removed without score from the third ball of the innings, clean bowled by Mathews.
Buttler then survived a big Sri Lankan appeal on just five despite appearing to edge Mathews behind.
England’s new opener clubbed Mathews for a big six in response, with Vince flicking a fine four to boot.
Vince’s determination to manoeuvre across the crease then cost him his wicket, a tangle ending in a stumping by Dinesh Chandimal.
Vince’s departure for 16 brought Morgan to the crease and he and Buttler eased England home.