A downcast Joe Root admitted that his team had been outplayed in all three Tests, as England surrendered their hold on the Ashes in an innings-and-41-run defeat on the final morning of the third Test at the WACA.
Despite the loss of 28 overs in the morning session, after torrential overnight rain had led to water seeping through the covers and onto the pitch, England put up scant resistance when play finally got underway. Dawid Malan completed an impressive personal match performance with a hard-fought half-century, but the end came in a familiar clatter of tail-end wickets, as Josh Hazlewood starred with figures of 5 for 48.
“It is very difficult to take,” said Root during the post-match presentations. “Fair play to Australia, they’ve outplayed us in all three games and we’ve got to be better. We’ve got to go to Melbourne [for the fourth Test], prepare well and put in good performances there.”
On the state of the WACA pitch, which required the use of leaf-blowers to remove some notable damp patches, Root was cautious in his criticism, particularly after Jonny Bairstow’s early dismissal to a delivery that kept noticeably low.
“When we got here this morning it definitely wasn’t fit to play,” he said. “But it dried up this morning, the sun got to it, the wind got it, they obviously worked very hard to get it right, and by the end there it was probably fit to play.”
There were few positives for Root to pick through after the loss of the Ashes at the earliest opportunity. But he did single out the performances of Malan and Bairstow in the first innings, when their 237-run stand appeared to have set England up for a sizeable first-innings total, before a collapse of 6 for 35 undermined their ambitions.
“If I am being brutally honest, that partnership and the way those two played to get us into that position was outstanding,” he said. “Those two lads should be very proud of that effort, and from the position we were in to start with, from 100 for 4, that’s not good enough.
“We’ve got to learn from it, make sure we are better but there are some good things that have come from this week. Those guys putting in big performances under pressure was outstanding.”
James Vince also earned plaudits from his captain for a battling 55 on the fourth day, which came to an end with the most unplayable ball of the series from Mitchell Starc.
“The way Vincey went in the second innings was proper batting, it looked like the only way they’d get him out was with a delivery like that. He played exceptionally well and will take a lot of confidence from that.”