England captain Joe Root has taken great heart from the drawn first Test against the West Indies and believes the performance was a “huge step forward” following the Ashes humbling.
The Three Lions fell to 48-4 on the first day after winning the toss but rallied to post 311, and although they surrendered a first-innings lead, a better batting effort second time round meant they were the only side in with a realistic chance of victory on the final day.
Ultimately the docile pitch did England few favours with the ball, although they battled on manfully in trying to win the match until the two captains shook hands on what had become an inevitable draw.
Still, there were three different centurions in the match for an England side that has struggled with the bat in the Test arena over the last few years despite their success in the shorter formats (England 3/1 Cricket World Cup 2023 Outright), with Root himself scoring one of those while batting at number three, having previously made it clear his preferred position is at four.
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Jack Leach also bowled well on the final day, finishing with figures of 3-57 off 30.1 overs, which came on the back of what was an aggressive declaration and the captain certainly sees some positives going forward.
“I’m really pleased with the way we played, especially given the position we were in after that first hour,” Root told BBC Sport.
“The guys stayed calm and showed great maturity to get us to a total, especially off the back of a difficult winter and a difficult year where we’ve not scored anywhere near enough runs.
“The way the guys stuck at it, especially having one bowler down as well, showed a huge amount of character and it was a huge step forward in many respects.”
Mark Wood, whose extra pace might have made a difference on the final day, is a major doubt for the second Test, which begins on Wednesday, after suffering an elbow injury in the Windies’ first innings.
Ollie Robinson missed the first Test due to back spasms but has returned to training, although the uncapped pair of Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Fisher will be hoping to get the nod.
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