Joe Root believes England’s fourth Test draw against Australia is a ‘very important step forward for this group’ as they avoid an Ashes whitewash as captain hails tourists’ ‘character, desire and pride’
Joe Root hailed ‘an important step forward’ after England hung on for a nail-biting draw with nine wickets down at the SCG to avoid another Ashes whitewash.
Old campaigners Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson hung on for the final two overs of the last day of the fourth Test after Australia were forced to turn to the part-time leg-breaks of Steve Smith because of fading Sydney light.
But England held on to take the small consolation of avoiding their third 5-0 thrashing in Australia in their last five tours and means Root will never have a whitewash on his captaincy record despite leading England in three unsuccessful Ashes series.
Joe Root (right) hailed ‘an important step forward’ as England hung on for a nail-biting draw
‘Coming into this game I spoke a lot about putting pride back into English cricket,’ said a drained looking Root.
‘This has done that in a small way. It was going to take a good performance and I’m really proud of the guys for doing that.
‘Avoiding a whitewash was really important, especially on the back of the previous Test.
‘Losing in Melbourne was a really dark day for English Test cricket and it would have been easy to roll over and feel sorry for ourselves.
Root (pictured left) speaks with team-mate Ben Stokes on day five of the fourth Ashes Test
‘We didn’t win and we were a long way behind in this game but to get a draw shows the character, desire and pride in our side.
‘It was a very important step forward for this group.’
Root revealed that Jos Buttler, who damaged his left hand trying to take a ball from Mark Wood that kept low at the SCG, is out of the final Test in Hobart next week and will now fly home.
There are also doubts about Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, who both batted through injuries to play a big part in saving the Test for England, and opener Haseeb Hameed, who was dismissed on the last day for his sixth successive single figure score.
Jimmy Anderson (left) and Stuart Broad (right) of England walk off after the match ended in a draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground on day five of the Fourth Test Match at the Ashes
Sam Billings, who drove nine hours from the Gold Coast to Sydney after his emergency call-up on Friday and is now in quarantine, is in line to make his Test debut, probably as a keeper-batsman with question marks over Bairstow’s thumb injury.
‘Jos is going to have to fly home because it’s quite a serious injury,’ said Root.
‘For him to front up from the moment he took that knock shows how much he cares and how much it means for him to play for England.
‘I’m really proud of the way all the injured players stood up at times, clearly in a lot of pain, to produce for England.’