Ashes 2019: Root says Old Trafford Test defeat ‘hard to take’

Victory left Australia 2-1 up in the five-Test series ahead of next week’s finale at the Oval.

Joe Root after England's defeat to Australia in Manchester.   -  REUTERS

Joe Root said he was “bitterly disappointed” after England slipped to defeat in the fourth Test against Australia on Sunday despite a defiant effort to keep its Ashes dream alive.

England, set a huge target of 383 to win at Old Trafford, was bowled out for 197 following some spirited lower-order defiance.

Victory left Australia 2-1 up in the five-Test series ahead of next week’s finale at the Oval.

'Bitterly disappointed'

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” England captain Root told BBC Radio. “I thought the way we fought today, the character we showed, every single one of them can be proud of that today.

“To come so close to taking it to the Oval is hard to take.

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“I think it’s been a good Test wicket, an important toss to win, and we were not quite at our best in the first innings. We fought hard and bravely throughout the game, but we’re in the position we are now.”

World-class Smith

Root hailed Steve Smith, who has scored an astonishing 671 runs at 134.2 including three hundreds in the series despite missing England’s one-wicket win in the third Test at Headingley with concussion.

“Steve Smith has played very well,” he said. “He’s a world-class player. You need to take any chance you get at him early. The first Test is probably the difference between the two sides.

“They’ve bowled well. I think the way we went about our business today was impressive. The guys will take a lot from that.

“You learn a lot about your team and players in situations like this and we stood up to the challenge and fought bravely.”

Defiant over captaincy

Root stated in no uncertain terms that he is still the right man to lead his country in the longest format and stressed the importance of salvaging a 2-2 draw in London.

Asked if he thinks he should stay on as skipper, the batsman simply replied: "Yes."

He added: "Whenever you lose a series it obviously hurts. You have to take that on the chin, you have to look at areas you want to get better at both from yourself and as a team.

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"Most importantly I've got to look at next week, we've got an important Test match against Australia. Every game against Australia counts and we've got to make sure we finish this summer strongly.

"We've got the Test Championship to play for and have to make sure we don't lose this series, so it's vitally important we turn up and win that game."

World Cup triumph no excuse

Root said England's World Cup triumph earlier this summer was no excuse for failing to regain the urn.

"I don't think that's an excuse. When you play in an Ashes series you turn up and put everything into it, everyone has done that." Root stated.

"At times we've not done our absolute best, we've played against a very good side that has performed well in this series."

(With inputs from PTI and Omnisport)