Joe Root: Still plenty of work to do for England despite Headingley win
England’s victory over Pakistan ended a sequence of six Test defeats in eight.
England’s response to adversity at Headingley earned a much-needed series-levelling win over Pakistan – but captain Joe Root warns it will not “paper over the cracks” on its own.
The Yorkshireman had reason for cheer at last with victory by an innings and 55 runs well inside three days of the second NatWest Test after the tourists were bowled out for 134.
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 well as drawing the series 1-1, England ended 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 preemptively 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.
“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.”
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: “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.”