sport news 'Time to burst out of the blocks': Joe Root says England can't make a slow ...

It gets harder now. Not only should Pakistan prove a much tougher nut for England to crack in the second half of this unprecedented Test summer but this should be the fiercest examination yet of Chris Silverwood's back to basics policy.

From a low-key start in New Zealand last winter to a come from behind victory in South Africa and then another win after losing the first Test of a series against West Indies, England have been making slow but steady Test progress under their new coach.

Now come the ever-unpredictable Pakistan complete with a teenage fast bowler unearthed at 16 last year from a village in the foothills of the Himalayas in Naseem Shah and the most in-form batsman in world cricket in Babar Azam.

England face a much harder Test match against Pakistan compared to the West Indies series

England face a much harder Test match against Pakistan compared to the West Indies series

Pakistan have top players such as bowler Naseem Shah (left) and batsman Babar Azam (right)

Pakistan have top players such as bowler Naseem Shah (left) and batsman Babar Azam (right)

Certainly, England cannot afford their customary slow start back at Old Trafford on Wednesday against a Pakistan team they have not beaten since the dark days of 2010. A sixth successive defeat in the first Test of a series would surely be terminal this time.

Joe Root knows England's inability to burst out of the blocks is a problem they have to rectify. 'It is something we want to get right this week,' said Root, back in the Manchester bubble after England enjoyed five days back with their families.

'It's always hard work when you go behind in a series and we want to start well this time. Fortunately, we have three games under our belts coming into this so the guys are up to speed and familiar with the rhythm of Test cricket. There are no excuses.'

There is a concern amongst Joe Root's squad that England do not start games quickly enough

There is a concern amongst Joe Root's squad that England do not start games quickly enough

Pakistan may be short of match practice but they have the tools to harm England this week

Pakistan may be short of match practice but they have already been in England a month following their early arrival after a particularly sharp Covid spike in their country and they have been quarantined themselves on-site firstly at Worcester and then Derby.

It is a tough way to start any tour and England are once again indebted to a side who have endured considerable personal sacrifice to get the world cricket show back on the road.

If there is any justice England will heed PCB chairman Ehsan Mani's call in these pages for them to tour Pakistan again in 2022 – ideally after they have repaid West Indies by visiting the Caribbean before then.

For now England will once again attempt their delicate balancing act of making sure they win their home series while trying to build a team capable of excelling in both India and Australia, if those tours go ahead, over the next two winters.

To that end Root confirmed he wants to include the

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