Ashes 2019: England captain Root hails team after extraordinary defensive effort almost salvages draw
Joe Root hailed England’s determined rearguard effort as they kept Australia at bay until the final hour of the fourth Ashes Test.
Needing to salvage a draw to stand any chance of winning the series - and taking the urn back from the holders - England started the day two wickets down.
A firm effort from the middle and lower order took as much sting out of the Australian attack as possible, until Marnus Labuschagne and Josh Hazlewood struck late for the visitors.
And although they conceded the Ashes on home turf for the first time since 2001, the England captain was pleased with the effort from his charges in the circumstances.
READ MORE: England beaten in final hour by Australia as visitors retain urn
He told Sky Sports: “I thought we showed great character, great fight and great belief in what we wanted to achieve.
“As last week we always believed, we always make sure we fight right until the end and we tried our hardest today.
“You can always look at different areas where you could have done things slightly differently but I couldn’t be more proud of the effort the guys put in today.
“I think we’ve seen some wonderful Test cricket over the course of the series and I expect the same at The Oval.”
It has been a series dominated by the presence of former captain Steve Smith - who leads the scoring charts with 671 runs, despite missing one and a half Tests.
In second place was Headingley hero Ben Stokes, with 354 to his name, who helped level the series in the third match.
But Smith, playing in his first series since he was banned from the game for 12 months for cheating, says retaining the urn in England was something he’s dreamed of.
He added to the broadcaster: “I’ve been here a few times when things haven’t quite gone our way or we haven’t performed to the best of our ability.
“To come back and get the urn here was always one to tick off my bucket list.
“There’s another game left and we’d love to win it but to know it’s coming home is extremely satisfying.
“The boys were getting a bit tight out there but with the new ball we thought we’d get enough chances.
“They (England) fought incredibly hard but fortunately the boys got the job done.”
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