Ashes: Joe Root ‘proud’ of ‘step forward’ for England after drawing Fourth Test

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Ashes: Joe Root ‘proud’ of ‘step forward’ for England after drawing Fourth Test
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  • Joe Root
    Joe Root
    English cricketer (born 1990)
  • Jonny Bairstow
    Jonny Bairstow
    English cricketer (born 1989)

England captain Joe Root praised the "grit, guts, determination and pride” of his team after they batted through the final day nine down to draw the Fourth Ashes Test at Sydney, despite a slew of injuries, one of which has ended Jos Buttler’s tour.

England produced a fighting team effort to avoid the whitewash, with Zak Crawley, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow all soaking up 100 balls, before the last three Jack Leach, Stuart Broad and James Anderson shared 75.

Stokes (side) and Bairstow (thumb) will remain on tour as the series moves to Hobart for Friday’s final Test. They will be assessed and there is a slim possibility they could play in that match as specialist batters.

Buttler, though, will head home due to a broken thumb, having batted twice through pain and a pain-killing injection. The ECB said there would be an update later this week on his rehabilitation process, but Root describe it as “quite a serious injury”.

While Root described a draw – just England’s second in their last 14 matches in Australia – was “just a small step forward”, he said England’s players were inspired by the fight of the injured three.

“Coming into the game I spoke a lot about putting pride back into English cricket and into our Test performances,” he said. “I think the fight and the desire and the character shown here in the five days has done that in a small way.

“For Jos to front up as he did from the moment he took that knock shows how much he cares and how much it means for him to play in this test team and for England.

"The guys could all see a number of the players hurting physically and still putting in a huge amount. In many ways it lifted the rest of the group and I’m really proud of the way they stood at times while clearly in a lot of pain, to produce for England.

"There was clearly a bit of pain relief required. It’s not just a physical element but the psychological, knowing you’re going into a pressure situation not 100%. to be able to perform at the level that some of the guys did was phenomenal and shows a huge amount of character.

"It’s a step forward for the team, definitely, in some quite difficult circumstances."

Root said that averting the whitewash was vital, after a “really dark day” in Melbourne last week.

“It was hugely important,” he said. “Especially on the back of the previous Test. It was a really dark day for English Test cricket. It would have been easy to roll over and feel sorry for ourselves. We didn’t win and we were a long way behind the game. But to get a draw shows the character, desire and pride. It was a very important step forward for this group.”

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