Ashes 2019: Root proud of England's character in Old Trafford defeat

By Sports Desk September 08, 2019

England captain Joe Root remained proud of his side after their Ashes hopes ended with a "bitterly disappointing" Old Trafford defeat.

The 185-run loss to Australia in Manchester saw England miss out on a chance to regain the urn.

Craig Overton and one of England's Headingley heroes, Jack Leach, kept Australia waiting for the winning moment with a determined lower-order alliance.

But Marnus Labuschagne and Josh Hazlewood struck the final blows in the evening session, sparking joyful celebrations among the tourists.

Australia lead the series 2-1 heading into the final Test at The Oval, with Tim Paine's side, as holders, retaining the Ashes with a match to spare.

England must lick their wounds ahead of a possible reshuffle of the Test squad, but Root believes the dramatic moments throughout the series have shown the spirit within his side.

"We showed great character, great fight and belief in what we wanted to achieve, and I couldn't be more proud of the effort," a clearly emotional Root said at the post-match presentation.

"[It was] a really resilient performance, but unfortunately it wasn't quite enough. We always believed, always fight right until the end.

"Another great Test match, we've had fantastic support once more. It is bitterly disappointing but we've got to make sure we turn up for a big game for us at The Oval.

"You can always sit back and look at different areas of the game where you could have done things slightly differently, but today I'm really proud of the guys here.

"To get ourselves into a position like that, fight as hard as that, you learn a lot about the characters in the team, everybody stood up and played bravely. They should be proud of that."

Despite Ben Stokes' incredible match-winning innings at Headingley, the series has belonged to Australia's Steve Smith, who returned from his concussion-enforced absence in style.

Smith hit 211 in the first innings before stalling England's momentum with the ball in his second knock, scoring 82, and Root conceded the former Australia captain has proved the difference.

"Every batsman has been put under pressure, bar maybe Steve Smith, through the entire series," Root said.

"That's Test cricket at its best, you expect it to be challenging, expect guys to make life hard for you. It's been a series where batting has been quite difficult and you've got to keep trying to score runs.

"[Smith] has been hard work to get out. You look back at moments which could have gone differently and ultimately he's probably been the difference this Test match."

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