Joe Root: England won’t let innings win paper over the cracks
Joe Root’s England still have much to prove after their series-levelling Leeds win.
Joe Root was thrilled by England’s response to adversity at Headingley but has warned their innings win over Pakistan must not be allowed to “paper over the cracks”.
The England captain had reason for cheer at last with victory by an innings and 55 runs well inside three days of the second NatWest Test.
Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 80, his second successive Test half-century, helped England to 363 all out.
Then after James Anderson took two early wickets, Dom Bess and Stuart Broad added three more each – the latter answering his critics with match figures of six for 66 – as the tourists were bowled out for 134.
England rescued a 1-1 series draw by ending an alarming sequence of six defeats in eight Tests, which had put coach Trevor Bayliss under pressure.
While the Australian spoke in a broadcast interview of perhaps reminding England in future of “what it’s like to be embarrassed” when they lose, as they did so badly in the first Test at Lord’s, Root was wary of getting carried away with one overdue success.
“It’s very important we don’t paper over the cracks and think this is going to be us (sorted) forever,” he said.
“We have to make sure we don’t find ourselves in those positions like last week.
“I’m thrilled to bits. (But) we know we’re not the finished article – this is the first step towards our goal.”
England answered the rallying call issued by Root before his home Test.
“I asked the guys to play with pride … and you saw that on the field,” he said, acknowledging that pre-match criticism from pundits – Michael Vaughan’s for Broad was particularly high-profile – might have played its part too.
“I think an element of that comes out through criticism,” Root said.
“You want to prove people wrong, and you have to have that within you to play at this level.
“We had to show a lot of character. I asked a lot of things of them, and everything I asked was delivered.
“Ultimately, you can’t ask for more as a captain.”
For him personally, a year into his tenure, the win was needed urgently.
England emerged from their long, winless winter vowing to push themselves harder than ever in preparation for each Test.
It did not pay dividends at Lord’s – but after battling back to draw 1-1, Root said: “We’ve set our stall out for a long period of time where we want to get to, and we’ve decided we want to go about things differently in preparation.
“There are a lot of long-term things that are going to have to happen for us to get to where we want. We have to give that a chance to work.”
Buttler’s innings was a big help, vindication for his return at number seven – and leaving Root wanting more.
“It would have just been nice to be able to get another cup of coffee in and sit for another hour and watch,” he said.
“That’s why he’s in the side, to try to take games away from the opposition as he did.
“We all know how talented he is, what he’s capable of – so I hope this is something we’ll see a lot more frequently from him.”
Root’s opposite number Sarfraz Ahmed had to come to terms with falling well short of the standards Pakistan set in the first Test.
He said: “The way we played at Lord’s, everything was perfect – our fast bowling was perfect, our batting and fielding were perfect.
“It’s disappointing that we had a chance to win the series, but unfortunately we didn’t play well here. I am (still) proud of my young team.”