Joe Root insists Jason Roy has not reached the end of the road in his Test career after the batsman was dropped by England for the final Ashes match against Australia.

Roy came into England's squad for the Ashes on the back of an impressive World Cup, but the 29-year-old - who opened the batting for the first three Tests before dropping to number four at Old Trafford - has failed to recapture the form he has shown in one-day cricket.

With all-rounder Ben Stokes having sustained a shoulder injury in the fourth Test, England have brought in Sam Curran as an extra bowler. That meant Roy, who accumulated just 110 runs from eight innings, misses out, while Chris Woakes has replaced Craig Overton.

Root, however, has no doubt Roy will work on improving his game in order to force his way back into consideration ahead of England's tour of New Zealand in November.

"It's always tough to leave guys out, but Stokesy suffered a shoulder injury in the last game and won't be able to bowl the overs you'd normally expect him to, and with that we've had to change the balance of the side," Root told a news conference.

"Jason's the unfortunate one to miss out. He's had an opportunity to come in and play Test cricket, get a feel for it.

"It's not quite gone how he would have liked but I’m sure he’ll go away, work extremely hard and come again and that’s what you'd expect of guys when they get left out.

"I'm sure he'll have that attitude, want to prove a point and get himself back into the side."

"Yes," Root said, when asked if he had spoken to Roy, who made his Test debut against Ireland in July.

"When you leave someone out you obviously have those conversations, and he’s very aware of where he's at and what he needs to do to get himself to the best place to perform in Test cricket."

Outgoing England coach Trevor Bayliss said on Tuesday that, despite media speculation, there was "no pressure" on Root's position as captain despite the team's failure to regain the Ashes.

And the Yorkshire batsman is adamant his side have plenty to play for heading into the final Test at The Oval.

"[It was] bitterly disappointing to not have got the Ashes back, but we haven't lost anything yet, we've got to make sure we square the series up and there's Test Championship points to play for as well which could make a huge difference," Root said.

"There's plenty to play for, the guys are very aware of that and determined to make sure we make the series 2-2.

"In terms of my own captaincy, I know the direction I want to take this team in and it's about starting that now, not after this series. We need to use this as a stepping stone, win this game, have a really strong winter and move forward as a group."

Jason Roy has been dropped from England's side for the final Ashes Test at The Oval after his poor form throughout the series, with Ben Stokes passed fit to bat.

Roy has failed to establish himself, either as an opener alongside Rory Burns or when switched to number four for the Old Trafford Test.

The 29-year-old's highest score came in Manchester, when he made 31 as England desperately attempted to keep the series alive, to no avail, and Roy has now made way for Sam Curran.

Craig Overton proved resilient with the bat in England's second innings at Old Trafford before he was eventually dismissed by Josh Hazlewood, but the Somerset bowler has been replaced by Chris Woakes.

Stokes will play as a specialist batsman, with the all-rounder unable to bowl due to a shoulder injury.

Australia captain Tim Paine confirmed one change to his 12-man squad, with Mitchell Marsh replacing Travis Head.

England team for fifth Ashes Test: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.

Tim Paine is not planning to bow out as Australia captain in the wake of his side retaining the Ashes.

Australia retained the urn thanks to their 185-run victory in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, handing the visitors an unassailable 2-1 lead.

There is still plenty to play for at The Oval, however, with England needing a victory to avoid a first Ashes series defeat on home soil in 18 years.

Paine's captaincy has come under scrutiny at times throughout the tour, particularly with former skipper Steve Smith - who was replaced by the wicketkeeper following the 2018 ball-tampering scandal - having been in such inspired form.

But having guided Australia through a difficult 18 months, Paine is in no mood to relinquish his leadership duties, even though an Ashes win would ensure his legacy would be firmly intact.

"Not for me, not at the moment," Paine, whose international career was halted by a mixture of injuries and rivals keeping him out of the team, told reporters at The Oval when asked if he might call time on his tenure at the end of the series.

"I'm loving doing what I'm doing, and I think while you've got a job that you love you try and do it for as long as you can.

"I did miss a lot, I suppose, in the prime years of my cricket career. The positive of that now is that physically I'm in really good condition for my age and feel really good after Test matches physically.

"Mentally, it's a different story but it only takes a day to recover from that. While I keep enjoying it, I'll keep doing it."

The 34-year-old was asked if the end of the ICC Test Championship cycle in the middle of 2021 would be an ideal signing-off point, but Paine insisted he is not planning so far ahead.

"I haven't thought about it to be honest," Paine said.

"I haven't thought much past this Test match, as I've said in the last 18 months, I think it's foolish at my age if you do.

"I'm enjoying what I'm doing and whilst I can continue to contribute in some way, I'll continue to do it.

"I constantly talk to Justin Langer and [selection chair] Trevor Hohns about what might happen or how long I might go on for, but I think we're all comfortable and we're all on the same page."

Justin Langer has no doubt David Warner will overcome the poor form that has dogged his batting during the Ashes. 

Warner has excelled in the field for Australia, but has failed to impress when at the crease, scoring just 79 runs from eight innings.

The tourists have nonetheless retained the urn, with Steve Smith having been pivotal in helping them secure a 2-1 series lead with one Test remaining. 

However, Langer has no concerns over whether Warner, who was impressive during Australia's Cricket World Cup campaign, can recapture the form which made him one of the most formidable openers in international cricket.

"He'll be fine," said Langer. "Steve Smith was throwing balls to him because [Smith's] usually hitting balls and he didn't want to hit any. 

"Davey hasn't had a great series, there's no secrets about that. But he's also a world class player. I've said throughout the whole series if Davey has one good innings it will help us win the Ashes. 

"He probably hasn't been through this lean run before, so it's going to be a good test of his character and we know what a great player he is. 

"He's had a huge World Cup, he had a huge IPL albeit with a white ball. He's a world class player, he's a match winner. He's been brilliant around the group since he's been back. 

"He's been great, he's been great for the crowds, he's been good amongst the group. He hasn't got the runs he wants at the moment, but I'm looking forward to seeing it when he does and there's no better place in the world to bat than The Oval [in the fifth Test], so I'm looking forward to seeing him go well this week."

Australia were able to celebrate at Old Trafford on Sunday, but Langer revealed focus swiftly switched to The Oval, with his side needing to avoid defeat to secure a first series triumph in England since 2001.

"Certainly that celebration was two out of 10 to some of the ones I've seen in Australian cricket before because we knew we had to play three days later," he said.

"The boys are up and about. There's certainly great energy in the group. I've said throughout this whole series there's been lots of laughter in the group, lots of great camaraderie. 

"So hopefully that continues and that certainly gets heightened when you have a successful game. There's a good feeling in the group, they know there's still unfinished business and we're looking forward to this last Test match."

James Anderson remains hungry to play for England after missing the Ashes - and has backed Joe Root to carry on as Test captain.

Seamer Anderson bowled just four overs on the first day of the opener against Australia due to a calf injury, though it was initially hoped he would still feature in the rest of the series.

However, while attempting to prove his fitness before the fourth Test at his home ground of Old Trafford, the 37-year-old suffered a setback on duty for Lancashire's second XI, ruling him out of contention.

Yet despite a disappointing 2019 so far, Anderson remains determined to get back to full fitness and turn out for his country again.

"At the minute, I'm just focusing on getting fit again. I've still got the hunger and desire to play for England," Anderson told Omnisport.

"As I've said before this year, up until I got injured, I've been bowling as well as I ever have, so I've still got the hunger there to get through this, do the rehab and get my body in good shape again and hopefully get onto a winter tour."

Without their all-time leading wicket-taker in the longest format, England have come up short in their bid to regain the Ashes on home soil.

Defeat in Manchester on Sunday means Australia - who won the previous series 4-0 - hold a 2-1 lead with just this week’s finale at the Oval to go.

Root's position as skipper has come into question in the aftermath of the fourth Test, though Anderson is adamant England do not need a captaincy change despite concerns extra responsibility has hampered the Yorkshireman's batting.

"I certainly think he's the right man for the job," Anderson said. "He's done some great work with the Test side over the last few years.

"From the team's point of view, we've shown glimpses of what we can do but been a little bit inconsistent. So it's about finding that consistency as a group.

"And I think he [Root] will be as disappointed as anyone with his form. It's a tricky one, whether if he had batted [at number] four it would make any difference.

"I don't think his captaincy is necessarily affecting his batting, he's just not scored the runs that he would have liked in the series."


James Anderson was speaking on behalf of ‘The Test Experts’ Specsavers, Official Test Partner for England cricket ahead of the final Test of the Specsavers Ashes Series at The Oval. Specsavers are encouraging fans to take eye and ear tests this summer.

Joe Root's position as England captain is not under threat, according to outgoing coach Trevor Bayliss.

Root's captaincy has been questioned from outside the England camp during the Ashes series, with Australia retaining the Ashes with one Test to spare thanks to their 185-run win at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The 28-year-old was appointed Test skipper following Alastair Cook's resignation in 2017, but England have struggled to find their best form in the longest form of the game under the Yorkshireman's leadership.

Despite the fate of the Ashes being already decided, Bayliss – who oversaw England's rise to dominance in one-day cricket and will leave his post at the end of the series – insists Root is not under scrutiny.

"He hasn't come under any questions from anyone making any decisions so he is under no pressure at all," Bayliss told a news conference ahead of the final Test at The Oval.

"Everyone goes through periods where they might not score quite as many runs as they would like. I think the Australian team have bowled pretty well to him.

"Let's see how things go further down the line, but from my point of view he's our premier batter and knowing the Australian way, they always try and target the opposition captain.

"He's batted well on occasions through this series when he's got a start. I don't see too many problems really."

In spite of calls for a shake-up to the Test side, England have named an unchanged squad for the final match, and Bayliss believes the selection policy throughout the series has been correct.

"I've been quite happy with the selections," he said. "The first thing you've got to say is, 'Who else is going to come in?'. That's one point.

"After three Tests in this series, either team could have been up 3-0 I thought. We had our chances when they were 120-8 in the first Test, second Test we finished on top and the game was a draw and the third Test, Australia could have won that and the first two so, as I said, it could have been 3-0 either way.

"If you think about it that way, we can't have got the selections too wrong."

Captain Tim Paine will take "great confidence" from Australia retaining the Ashes on English soil, according to Justin Langer.

After they were denied by Ben Stokes' heroics at Headingley in the previous match, Australia made sure they will keep hold of the famous urn with a 185-run victory over England in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, the result giving them a 2-1 lead with just one match to play.

Paine's relief when the final wicket was confirmed following a review was clear, having come in for some criticism after his team's failure to get over the line in the third Test when the hosts recorded a dramatic one-wicket triumph.

Australia coach Langer has praised the way the skipper has led the team during the tour, particularly as they had not won a series overseas since a 2-0 triumph over trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in 2016.

"He's very disciplined - I like that. He is very tough as well," Langer said of the wicketkeeper-batsman. "This has meant a lot to him, from where he's come from.

"The other important thing about Tim as captain is that we have not won overseas for some time. You've got to learn how to win, and that's why this result is so important to us.

"I think the big lesson from the last Test is we all wanted it so much, sometimes we want something so much you just hold on a little bit tight. Hopefully we've learned some lessons over the last week.

"Had this [Old Trafford Test] been another draw, had we not quite got over the line, then that's tough on the team. And for his captaincy, he will take great confidence from this - and so will the team."

The tourists have relied heavily on Steve Smith to hold together a faltering batting line-up during the series, though Langer feels there are mitigating circumstances for some of the rest of the team, considering their lack of experience in the Test arena.

"Steve Smith has done a lot for Australian cricket in the last few years, really. So has David Warner," he said.

"We must remember that Travis Head is new to Test cricket. Marnus Labuschagne is new to Test cricket. Marcus Harris is new to Test cricket. Cameron Bancroft is new to Test cricket. You can't just give them that experience, they've got to earn that.

"We are very thankful to have Steve Smith batting like he is. We are lucky to have him, but Test cricket takes time. We have got to respect that.

"David hasn't had a great series, but imagine how good the team will be when he starts having a great series. Hopefully, he will do that in the next Test.

"The other guys are learning as they go and this is all part of the experience. I said at the start of the series that the team that bats best will win the series, because both teams have got good bowling attacks. Ours is world class and we're really lucky – we're going to have to work on that batting."

Smith has scored 671 runs in five innings against England, cementing his place at the top of the International Cricket Council Test batting rankings.

Rashid Khan finished with 11 wickets in the match as Afghanistan made up for lost time to beat Bangladesh on a rain-hit final day of the one-off Test.

Having reached stumps the previous day on 136-6 in pursuit of an improbable victory target of 398, Bangladesh appeared set to be saved when bad weather wiped out the majority of the first two sessions on Monday.

However, the rain relented enough for 18.3 overs of play after tea - a small window of opportunity that Afghanistan immediately capitalised on with the huge wicket of Shakib Al Hasan.

The all-rounder fell to the first delivery after the resumption, a lazy cut shot seeing the left-hander caught behind off the bowling of Zahir Khan (3-59) for 44.

Rashid, who also made a half-century with the bat on day two of the contest in Chattogram, then worked his way through the lower order, the leg-spinner trapping both Mehidy Hasan and Taijul Islam lbw.

Afghanistan's captain duly wrapped up victory - just his country's second in the longest format following their success over Ireland in March - with less than four overs remaining. 

Soumya Sarkar was the last man to go, caught at short leg by Ibrahim Zadran for 15, as Bangladesh were bowled out for 173 to lose by 224 runs. Rashid finished with 6-49 to follow up his figures of 5-55 in the first innings.

England have named an unchanged 13-man squad for the fifth Ashes Test, despite seeing their Ashes hopes end at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Joe Root's side suffered a 185-run defeat in Manchester, the result meaning Australia - who won the 2017-18 series 4-0 on home soil - hold a 2-1 lead and are already certain to retain the urn.

However, rather than swing the axe following the fourth Test result, the selectors have opted to stick with the same group of players as they look to square the five-match series with victory at the Oval.

The show of faith gives a further opportunity to England's misfiring batsmen.

Only Ben Stokes, who made centuries at Lord's and Headingley, the second of which secured a remarkable one-wicket win, and opener Roy Burns average above 40 against Australia's potent bowling attack this year.

Jason Roy retains his place despite making just 110 runs in eight innings. After struggling as an opener, the right-hander was moved into the middle order at Old Trafford, making scores of 22 and 31.

All-rounder Stokes may yet feature as a specialist batsman in the Ashes finale, which begins on Thursday, with England to assess his injured shoulder in the coming days.

The fifth Test will be Trevor Bayliss' last as England coach - the Australian had already announced he would be leaving the role at the end of the series.

Tim Paine never doubted Australia's ability to overcome their Headingley heartbreak after his side beat England at Old Trafford to retain the Ashes on Sunday.

After Ben Stokes' heroics completed a miraculous comeback for England in the third Test in Leeds, Paine's Australia claimed a 185-run victory in Manchester to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series, which concludes at The Oval.

Steve Smith's sensational displays with the bat in both innings had put Australia in command heading into day five of the fourth Test, with England having been reduced to 18-2 after Pat Cummins dismissed Rory Burns and Joe Root in a disastrous evening session for the hosts on Saturday.

Despite respectable efforts from Jason Roy, Joe Denly and Jos Buttler, England's batting order was whittled away through the day - Craig Overton and Jack Leach offering some late resistance before Marnus Labuschagne and Josh Hazlewood struck.

Paine's captaincy was called into question following Australia's failure to retain the Ashes at Headingley, but the wicketkeeper insisted he always trusted his side to hold their nerve this time around.

"A few nervous moments no doubt, coming off Headingley, we didn't want to be in that position again," Paine told a news conference.

"I thought we learned from that, held our nerve, bowled really well against a team that fought really hard like we knew they would.

"From where we came from last week, that was a loss that could break a lot of teams but I was confident we weren't one of those teams.

"I could feel it and I thought we handled that week superbly, turned up here and did what we needed to like good cricket teams do.

"When you get a bunch of people together who have worked so hard for a common goal, to be able to carry it out over here with the pressure and the crowds and everything that's been thrown at us and I couldn't be more proud of the way the group have handled it."

While Smith has undoubtedly been the star of the series so far, Labuschagne - originally introduced as a concussion substitute for Australia's former captain - has settled in seamlessly after coming in at Lord's.

Though much of his work has been with the bat and in the field, Labuschagne made the breakthrough when he ended Leach's stubborn stand, and Paine lauded the 25-year-old's impact.

"Marnus has been working really hard on his leg-spin bowling. He's bowled a lot of overs for Glamorgan which has helped him, he's improving all the time," Paine said.

"He's just one of those cricketers, if you tell a youngish part-time spinner to warm up at that stage in a Test match, I don't think many of them would want to bowl. Marnus wanted to bowl and he wants to bat in the games when the best bowlers are on. 

"He's a really exciting cricketer for us and one we can build our team around in the future."

Australia retained the Ashes on Sunday as a 185-run loss at Old Trafford dashed England's hopes of regaining the urn.

For the first time since 2002-03, Australia ensured the Ashes will remain in their grasp - Marnus Labuschagne and Josh Hazlewood dealing the final blows in a drawn-out defeat for the hosts.

While one Test remains for England to level the series, talk has already turned to where it all went wrong for Joe Root's side - Steve Smith's supreme batting aside.

The World Cup triumph, and even Ben Stokes' Headingley heroics, now seem distant memories, and here are three key areas England must address if they are to ensure this Ashes defeat does not derail their Test side for a long stretch.

TOP-ORDER TRIBULATIONS

An elephant in the room heading into the series was England's crippling lack of options at the top of the order. Jason Roy, impressive in England's World Cup campaign, was shoehorned in alongside Rory Burns, who - with high scores of 133, 53 and 81 - has proved his worth as an opener.

Roy has failed to do so, with the aggression which serves him well in one-day cricket proving his downfall in the longest form.

After making just 57 runs from the first three Tests, Roy shifted to four at Old Trafford, switching with Joe Denly, who showed his ability to adapt with an admirable display in the second innings. Roy made 22 and 31 and was bowled twice.

The question now is whether to stick or twist with one of Roy or Denly while Ollie Pope, who scored an unbeaten 221 for Surrey in August, could be reintroduced with the view to becoming Burns' long-term partner.

ROOT GAMBLE HAS NOT PAID OFF

Given the frailties at the top of England's batting order, it was decided captain Root would bite the bullet and move up from his preferred slot at four, coming in at three instead.

It is a risk which has failed to pay dividends, with Root having been dismissed for ducks in three of the four Tests so far.

Though he played captain's knocks at both Headingley and Old Trafford, after a decent 57 in the first Test, Root does not seem comfortable coming in at three, having had less time to rally himself - not to mention the dressing room - following what has typically been the loss of an early wicket.

TWO WICKETKEEPERS, TOO MUCH

A star of limited-overs cricket, Jos Buttler's ability with the bat cannot be called into question, but the Lancashire wicketkeeper had scored over 30 only once in the series prior to the fourth Test.

Buttler perked up with 41 and 34 at Old Trafford. His ability behind the stumps has not been called upon, with Jonny Bairstow handed the gloves for the series, and it has been an underwhelming series for the former Test vice-captain.

Yorkshireman Bairstow has also struggled with the bat - scoring a high of 52 in the first innings at Lord's.

Given England's issues higher up the order, now might be time for a more streamlined approach, and one - if not both - of the keepers may have to make way, especially with Ben Foakes waiting in the wings.

England have savoured the most glorious of Sunday triumphs over the last two months but they paid the price for their shortcomings at Old Trafford.

A fortnight after Ben Stokes' astonishing century gave them a one-wicket win to level the series at Headingley, and eight weeks on from winning the Cricket World Cup at Lord's, England's hopes of retaining the Ashes were shattered in Manchester.

Starting the final day in deep trouble on 18-2, Joe Root's side needed to bat all day for a draw against a potent Australia bowling attack to keep the Ashes within reach.

A win was highly unlikely after being set a mammoth 383, but England hung in there with a draw their goal until the final hour - roared on by a raucous, partisan crowd in Manchester.

New opener Joe Denly dug in for a half-century, while Jason Roy - down to number four - hung around longer than usual before Jos Buttler, Craig Overton and Jack Leach frustrated Australia with an old-school approach to Test batting.

There were textbook forward defensive shots, leaves and dot balls galore as a lively, packed crowd sensed another great escape.

It was not to be on this occasion, though, as with the clock having ticked into the final hour, Josh Hazlewood trapped Overton leg before to end England's resistance.

All out for 197 after soaking up 91.3 overs, their battling display of application was in vain as Australia, who began the series as Ashes holders, celebrated taking a 2-1 lead with just one match to play at The Oval next week.

A dejected Root said in his press conference: "The guys fought extremely bravely, really dug in, made it very difficult for Australia, put a really strong price on a wicket and that almost makes it a little bit harder to take.

"But at the same time, I couldn't be more proud of how we fought today."

Had they demonstrated the same patience with the bat before this tense last day, there may have been a chance of putting icing on the cake at the end of the English summer by lifting the urn.

While Australia were ruthless - holding their catches, with their pace attack showing relentless intensity and Steve Smith simply irrepressible - England were far too charitable in the penultimate Test.

Smith's magnificent first-innings double-century came after he was dropped by Jofra Archer and called back when Leach had him caught by Stokes at first slip, but overstepped.

Tim Paine made a half-century after being dropped twice as England continued to let Australia off the hook.

There have been head-scratching selections throughout the series, with the batting order changed time and again, and captain Root making some puzzling decisions at key times.

England might be able to salvage a series draw, but as the Australia squad celebrated with a beer on the outfield long after they sealed a deserved win, knowing they will retain the urn come what may, Root's men must go back to the drawing board.

Joe Root fended off questions about his future as England captain after Australia retained the Ashes by winning the fourth Test at Old Trafford on Sunday.

England showed great defiance to take it to the final hour on day five as they sought a draw that would have kept the series alive with one match remaining at The Oval next week.

New opener Joe Denly top scored with 53, while Jos Buttler, Craig Overton and Jack Leach also frustrated the tourists before England were finally bowled out for 197 to lose a gripping encounter by 185 runs.

A defiant 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.

"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."

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."

 

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."

Captain Tim Paine hailed team-mate Steve Smith as "clearly the best player we've seen" after Australia retained the Ashes on Sunday.

Australia moved 2-1 up in the series with one match to play following a 185-run win over England in the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Central to their success on English soil has been the stunning form of former skipper Smith, who lit up Manchester with 211 and 82 in his two innings.

Speaking to the BBC, Paine said: "He's clearly the best player we've seen; there's no doubt about that. His ability to go anywhere in the world and score runs against all types of attacks is just phenomenal."

A visibly emotional Paine praised the English crowds and says the atmosphere they created makes the victory even sweeter.

Australia arrived in England as holders of the Ashes urn, meaning that to retain it they only needed to avoid a series defeat.

"I didn't think it would be this emotional," Paine said. "I'm really proud of this group and how we bounced back from [defeat at] Headingley.

"The atmosphere, I was just saying to the guys, at every ground has been unbelievable.

"The noise they make here and the passion they have for cricket makes this moment all the more special.

"We're thrilled. This is what we came here to do, to take the Ashes home. We'll have a bloody good night tonight together and celebrate, but we'll be back on deck next week [for the fifth test at the Oval]. We want to win the Ashes 3-1."

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