Captain Joe Root says a first home Test series defeat since 2014 is not the time to panic, and has backed his misfiring young batters to come good in a full-strength side against India later this summer.
It took New Zealand just 11 overs to finish England off on the fourth day at Edgbaston in what was an embarrassing defeat, even for an under-strength side. The performance of England’s batting unit was particularly disappointing. Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope failed to live up to their abundant potential, while James Bracey and Dan Lawrence made four ducks in six innings between them.
Root said it had been a “frustrating and disappointing” week, but believes England should not panic ahead of the five Test series against India and Australia later this year.
“It’s been a frustrating and disappointing performance this week,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve given a fair account of ourselves. We’ve been outplayed in all three departments, particularly the batting. We have to front up to that, look to get better and learn some hard lessons.
“I think every single one of those guys has proven they can score big Test runs. We’ve all underperformed this week, I think it would be the wrong time to start panicking and trying to rip up all the hard work we’ve done for such a long period of time. It’s something that historically we’ve done going into big tournaments and big Test series, and it’s made things even worse.
“Ultimately it’s about this group of players, taking what’s happened this week and making themselves better for it. Becoming more resilient on the back of it and learning some hard lessons. From time to time you have to be able to do it in this format of the game. We shouldn’t shy away from that, shouldn’t be scared of that, front up to it and come back a better team for it.”
Root’s message for the misfiring batting unit was: “go away, make big scores, regardless of the format, and put your hand up for selection”. The picture is complicated by the fact there are just two rounds of Championship action in almost two months before the India series.
Rest and rotation in a calendar congested by Covid-19 mean Root has not had a full strength side for any of England’s eight Tests so far in 2021. Against New Zealand (who also rotated their side), they were without Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and others as they were rested, as well as Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer through injury.
Root expects to have a full-strength squad for the India series.
“One thing we have got from these games is that we have more knowledge on certain players that have been in and around the squad for a period of time, and we are better off for that,” he said.
“In terms of having our best 11, I’d like to think that if we are all fit and ready that will be the case for the five Test matches against India, which is a very exciting series for us. That will give us a huge amount of confidence having that experience back, those guys with cricket behind them coming into that series.”