England draw with West Indies 'a huge step forward' – Root

By Sports Desk March 12, 2022

Joe Root praised his England team for their performance in a first Test draw with West Indies following a "difficult year".

Captain Root has led England into this series alongside stand-in coach Paul Collingwood after the ECB made widespread changes in response to a dismal Ashes tour.

England had issues throughout their line-up in Australia, and the decision to respond by leaving both Stuart Broad and James Anderson at home for this series was not a popular one.

Fellow bowler Mark Wood was lost to an injury for which he is being assessed in the first Test, too, but England remained the most likely winners in Antigua.

Helped by Root's 109 in a second-innings 349-6 declared, England gave themselves two sessions to bowl out West Indies and threatened to do so when Jack Leach took three wickets in a strong spell.

It was not to be, as West Indies finished on 147-4 – some way short of a target of 286 but not at real risk of defeat.

The post-match outlook from Root was a positive one, however.

"I'm really pleased with the way we played, especially given the position we were in after that first hour," said Root, referring to an alarming first day when England slumped to 48-4 prior to Jonny Bairstow's vital 140.

"The guys stayed calm and showed great maturity to get us to a total, especially off the back of a difficult winter and a difficult year where we've not scored anywhere near enough runs."

Lauding his bowlers, too, Root added: "The way the guys stuck at it, especially having one bowler down as well, showed a huge amount of character and it was a huge step forward in many respects.

"No-one stopped believing or gave up all day. We really did give ourselves the best chance of winning this game."

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