‘England are on track for No.1 ranking’ – Joe Root

Also, there is no obvious replacement for James Anderson in the pipeline and, while the opening batsmen have enjoyed an impressive start to their period together, it is too early to draw firm conclusions about the long-term futures of Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings.

“We’re not the finished article,” Root admitted. “We’re still learning and still improving. But we’re going in the right direction and sometimes you have to tinker with things to get to where you want eventually.”

Bairstow’s recall for this Test does provide him with an opportunity to stake a claim for that No. 3 position in the long term. With Ben Foakes having appeared to have nailed down the keeping position – despite being leading run-scorer in the series, he will still bat at No. 8 in Colombo – that No. 3 spot could be Bairstow’s only way back into the side.

“That’s definitely a strong option,” Root said. “He’s more than capable of doing it. He bats at the top of the order in one-day cricket and one thing we all know about Jonny is that whenever he’s got a point to prove, or he is up against it, he generally comes out and does something pretty special. Hopefully we see that determination and drive to really hammer that spot home for himself this week.

“It’s a really good opportunity for him to take his batting to another level. Over the last couple of years he’s been statistically one of the top 10 players in the world in Test cricket. It would be nice to see him really grab No. 3 by the scruff of the neck, use it as an opportunity and start consistently scoring big runs in this format.

“At the minute, keeping is not an option for him in this team. Jonny’s not done anything wrong [as keeper], but he has had a freak injury and is going to have to continue to work hard at his keeping and quietly wait for an opportunity if it comes.

“Ben Foakes has come into the side and batted magnificently well. We all know how good a wicketkeeper he is, but I think he’s probably exceeded expectations in that department as well. He deserves his opportunity.”