Claims England made “big improvements” and played some “brilliant cricket” despite defeat to West Indies
England came into the Grenada Test looking to build on encouraging showings with the bat in Antigua and Barbados, but suffered two disastrous top-order collapses to lose by 10 wickets on the fourth morning. Defeat means Root’s team have now won just a single Test in their last 17 matches, going back more than a year.
Speaking to BT Sport afterwards, Root made clear that he had not been reconsidering his position, and suggested the squad had made “big improvements” and played some “brilliant cricket” after the changes made in the wake of England’s 5-0 Ashes defeat.
“I think I’ve made it quite clear at the start of this game and throughout this tour, I’m very passionate about trying to take this team forward,” he said. “I don’t think it’s ever in your hands completely, but as I said, I feel like the group are very much behind me. We’re doing a lot of really good things. We just need to turn that into results.”
England largely had the better of the first two Tests, albeit both were played on notably flat surfaces, with four players scoring five hundreds between them and West Indies twice forced to bat their way to safety on the final day. That left England with a shot at winning in the Caribbean for the first time since 2004, only for familiar frailties in tougher conditions to undermine their cause.
Having been inserted on the first morning in Grenada, they slipped to 67 for 7 and then 114 for 9, before a last-wicket stand of 90 between Jack Leach and Saqib Mahmood gave them a foothold. But after conceding a 93-run lead, England visibly frustrated by Josh Da Silva’s rearguard hundred, another plunge to 101 for 8 left them nowhere to hide.
“Immediately there’s frustration at how it’s finished because throughout this series I think we’ve played some really good cricket,” Root said. “I think we’ve shown what we’re capable of as a group. I think we’ve grown over the first two games as a batting group, we’ve shown big strides in that department and shown what we are capable of and then yesterday’s really let us down.
“It’s an important day within the series, and we just didn’t stand up to it well enough. Then unfortunately you find us in this position where we’ve ended up losing out on the series, in which we’ve played so much brilliant cricket.”
Root was also keen to praise the efforts of a much-changed squad. England went to the Caribbean without their two all-time leading wicket-takers, in James Anderson and Stuart Broad, and gave debuts to three players: Alex Lees, Saqib Mahmood – both of whom played in Grenada – and Matt Fisher.
“I thought the attitude throughout the whole thing’s been brilliant,” Root said. “In that respect we’ve definitely made big improvements, and that has to continue. There are so many good things that we can take away from this, of course we came here to win and we’ve not, and that’s frustrating, it’s disappointing. But if we’re going to keep learning and keep growing as a team, and if we’re going to start winning, then we’ve got to keep that approach.
“We’ve got to keep doing the stuff that we did so well the first few games and in parts of this one. I think one thing we have done [is] we’ve learned more about some new players, there have been two debutants come in and show promise, they’re at the start of their journey now and that’s very exciting. So you know, we will take things away from it, but it’s it’s frustrating today.”
Paul Collingwood, England’s interim head coach, said that decisions about the future of the team would be made once the ECB had appointed a new managing director for the men’s team. He indicated that he would still like to be considered for the permanent role of head coach, and also gave his backing to Root as captain.
“The one thing you do notice in that dressing room is that that team is together and they’re right behind Joe. If I was stood here and didn’t think that, there would be a problem. But you can see all the players, all the management, and if you see Joe himself, he’s got the determination to still take this team forward and get results. The leadership doesn’t affect his batting, he’s still going out there and scoring the runs, and he’s still desperate to turn things around and desperate to make this team the best it can be, it’s as simple as that.”