After England’s embarrassing 9-wicket defeat in the first Ashes Test at Gabba, skipper Joe Root defended his decision to bat first in the match and also stood by his bowling selections.
Root won the toss and opted to bat first on a green pitch in Brisbane and the decision backfired as the visitors were skittled for 147.
“I think batting first was the right decision. We just didn’t quite play well enough in that first innings. We get some sort of a score on the board, see how wicket starts to behave today, and we’re looking at very different contexts,” Root said after the match, as quoted by Reuters.
Veteran pacer James Anderson wasn’t included in the playing XI as the England team management felt the workload of five Ashes Tests would be a bit too much for the 39-year-old.
Surprisingly, the tourists didn’t pick Stuart Broad in the playing XI either and opted to go with left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who conceded 102 runs in his 13 overs for the sole wicket of Marnus Labuschagne.
Root said England had picked a spinner for variation and blamed himself for setting an overly “aggressive” field for the bowler.
“Probably more on my shoulders there and how I managed him rather than looking at the selection of how we went about things,” said the England captain.
The second Test is due to be played in Adelaide from December 16 and Root said it was too soon to talk about selections.
“I think that’s something that we’ll look at once we get to Adelaide, once we know what the surface looks like and what the conditions are likely to present when we get there,” he added.
“But it’s nice to know that they (Broad and Anderson) should be fit and available and ready to go fresh for those conditions.”
Ben Stokes failed to live up to the expectations on his return to cricket, scoring 5 and 14 and bowled only 12 wicketless overs after jarring his knee in the match.
However, Root expected the ace all-rounder to bounce back in the second Test.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll be fit for Adelaide and one thing, you write Ben Stokes off at your own peril,” said Root. “He’d be desperate to get back into this series and have a big say in how it all turns out.”
Resuming their second innings on 220/2 with the match still within their grasp, England lost eight wickets for 77 runs to be bowled out for 297 in the first session on Day 4, leaving Australia needing only 20 runs to win.
The hosts overhauled the paltry target in 5.1 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match Test series.
“It was frustrating. We obviously knew how important that first hour was in particular,” said Root.
“It was really important that we got there unscathed and unfortunately, losing those three wickets ahead of that was bitterly disappointing because we had put a lot of good work in last night.
“However, he said the seeds of the defeat had been sown on day one.
“I look back at this morning with a little bit of disappointment but ultimately when you’re 40 for four in the first innings, it’s very difficult to get back into the game,” he added.
“And when you create as many chances as we did with the ball and not take them, it’s very difficult to look back at just this morning and think that that’s where the game was lost.”
(With Reuters inputs)