Ashes 2019: Joe Root praises England's character on final day despite falling to defeat
Mama G - North K. AG
Sept. 08, 2019
England captain Joe Root praised his team's character and fight despite falling to a 185-run defeat as Australia retained the Ashes with a Test still to play.
The hosts began the day 18-2 needing to bat out 98 overs to pull of an unlikely draw at a sold-out Old Trafford and Joe Denly (53) and Jason Roy (31) battled for 80 minutes before the latter was bowled by Pat Cummins.
Although Ben Stokes (1) was unable to repeat his Headingley heroics, Jos Buttler made a battling 34 off 111 balls, Jack Leach laboured for 12 off 54 and last man out Craig Overton spent just under three hours at the crease for his 21 off 105 balls.
"I thought we showed great character, fight and belief in what we wanted to achieve today," Root said. "I couldn't be more proud of the effort that the guys put in today.
"It was a resilient performance but unfortunately it wasn't enough. Like last week at Headingley we always believed and we try our hardest until the end.
"You always can sit back and look at different areas of the game where you could have done things differently but from today's point of view I am really proud.
"When you're in the position we were at the start of the day, the way the guys fought as hard as they did, you learn a lot about your team, it shows the character and everybody stood up and played bravely."
Despite the Ashes having already been won by Australia, Root believes there is plenty for England to play for with a draw in the series still possible and Test Championship points on the line.
The England captain added the dominance of the seam bowlers during the series was showing Test cricket at its peak.
"It is tough to take losing the Ashes at this stage but we need to make sure we pick ourselves up and turn up at The Oval," he explained.
"It was another great Test match and it is bitterly disappointing and we have to make sure we pick ourselves up and turn up for what is still quite a big game for us at The Oval.
"We have seen some wonderful Test cricket over the course of this series so far and I expect the same to be the case at The Oval, it is still a big game for us. We want to make sure we level the series and there is a Test championship to play for as well.
"I think every seamer has put all batters under pressure throughout the series, bar Steve Smith. It has been hard work but that is Test cricket at its best.
"You expect it to be challenging and you expect guys to challenge your defence and make life hard for you. It has been one of those summers where batting has been hard and you have had to work for your runs."