Chastened Root says loss ‘a learning experience’
CRICKET: Vanquished England captain Joe Root believes his horror Ashes experience will make him a better skipper and player.
Just 10 months into the top job, Root has already surrendered the Ashes after Australia took an unassailable 3-0 series lead following their crushing innings victory at the WACA Ground.
Root entered the series as one of the best batsmen in world cricket. But his return of 176 runs at an average of 29.33 over the first three Ashes Tests has cast doubt on his ability to handle the pressure.
Root has also been forced to deal with a series of off-field scandals that has taken his attention away from the job at hand.
First, star all-rounder Ben Stokes was arrested before the series even began following an alleged fight outside a Bristol nightclub.
Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow then had to explain his actions after greeting Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft with a headbutt at a Perth night spot.
And the tour went from bad to worse after fringe player Ben Duckett was punished for pouring a beer over senior teammate Jimmy Anderson.
Root is now facing the very real prospect of overseeing a 5-0 series whitewash, with the futures of senior players Stuart Broad, Moeen Ali, and Alastair Cook all in the spotlight.
The 26-year-old said it was bitterly disappointing to lose the Ashes, but vowed to learn from the experience.
"As a captain, you take a lot of responsibility," Root said.
"You're always learning, you're always finding things out about yourself and your team. That can only make me a better player and a better captain."
Root denied the off-field dramas had affected his own form.
Instead, he said it was simply a case of trying too hard.
"I'm not someone who's going to make excuses and hide behind stuff that's irrelevant really," Root said.
"Probably the thing that's been my biggest detriment is trying too hard. I've been desperate for us to win this series."
Root's dismissal in the second innings in Perth summed up his plight. Facing Nathan Lyon's first delivery of the spell, Root edged a wide one to the wicketkeeper, with the ball deflecting off the gloves and into the hands of Steve Smith at first slip.
Root was criticised for going so hard at Lyon's first ball instead of taking more time to adjust.
But he said it was a ball he should have put away.
"I'd like to think that if he bowled me that again, I'd smash it for four," Root said.