Joe Root confident England can turn around Ashes series
Joe Root’s belief in England’s Ashes campaign has not been shaken by a seismic defeat in the opening Test.
The England skipper is desperate to regain the urn after overseeing a 4-0 defeat Down Under in 2017-18 but saw his side stumble at the first hurdle at Edgbaston.
Australia dismissed their hosts before tea on the fifth day at the Birmingham stronghold, sealing a massive 251-run victory despite conceding a first-innings deficit of 90.
Root and his fellow decision-makers have a number of issues to ponder before battle resumes at Lord’s next week against a historical backdrop that shows Michael Vaughan’s class of 2005 were the last team to win the series after surrendering the first match.
“We’ve got the confidence that we need to do that. These records are there to be broken,” said Root.
“This team is not your typical English team. It’s very much up and down at times, which can be slightly frustrating, but we’re more than capable of going against the trend and I’m fully expecting us to fight our way back into this series.
“We’d have much preferred to be sat here 1-0 up but we’ve got four games and plenty of time to think things through before the next one.”
Moeen Ali’s form is close to the top of the agenda. He made nought and four in the match, dismissed both times by his old nemesis Nathan Lyon, and conjured only a fraction of the latter’s threat with the ball.
Root was unwilling to feed criticism of the out-of-sorts all-rounder, but the growing competition from slow left-armer Jack Leach is sure to be a point of discussion at the next selection meeting.
“With Mo, you’ve got to remember how threatening he can be and what an asset he has been to this team in the past. Whenever written off before, he generally comes back stronger,” said Root.
“He’ll be a bit disappointed about it and how this game’s gone but I’m sure he’ll dust himself down and make sure he’s in a good headspace going into Lord’s.”
England must also ask themselves if they were unlucky or reckless in selecting James Anderson after a month on the sidelines. He bowled just four overs on the first morning before his calf problems resurfaced and only reappeared for two brief batting cameos.
Scans are expected to rule him out of next week’s Lord’s Test and his likeliest replacement, Jofra Archer, is playing in a Second XI game to prove he is fit after side problems.
“Jimmy passed every medical testing. He was fit to play. It’s one of those freak scenarios where he pulled up,” said Root.
“It’s an easy thing to look back on and say we’d have done things differently. It was a unanimous decision for him to play.
“With Jofra, we’re in a slightly different situation where he’ll have played a lot of cricket in between and we’ll have a clearer idea of where he’s at. We’ll turn up to Lord’s and make sure in the next few days we don’t make any shotgun decisions.”