England's Ashes campaign not shaken despite defeat in first test according to captain Joe Root

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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.”

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Watch Chris Woakes describe Australia batsman Steve Smith as “destructive”

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Chris Woakes described Steve Smith as “destructive” with the England bowler speaking about how crucial it is to get out the Australian batsman as soon as possible on Sunday.

Smith – having scored a mesmeric 144 in the first innings – added an unbeaten 46 on day three of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston with Australia leading England by 34 runs heading into day four.

Australia resume on 124-3, knowing their chances might well live and die with their former skipper.

“Obviously Steve’s a very good player and don’t get me wrong we’re trying to get him out as well but whenever you get a new player at the crease you try and attack them as much as possible because that’s when you’re most vulnerable as a player, when you first get to the crease,” said Woakes.


“We saw how destructive he was at the back end of the first innings. He ended up scoring over half the first innings’ runs so it’s important that we try to get him out as well.”









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Ashes 2019: James Anderson absence concerns Chris Woakes

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Chris Woakes fears the worst for James Anderson’s prospects of featuring in the remainder of the first Ashes Test as England look to end the resolve of Australia linchpin Steve Smith.

England’s record wicket-taker sent down only four overs on the opening morning before going for a scan on a calf complaint and though he was able to bat on the third afternoon, he moved gingerly and did not take to the field for Australia’s second innings.

The tourists wiped out a 90-run first-innings deficit and were 34 ahead on 124 for three, Smith ominously still there at the close four short of his fifty when bad light and then rain at Edgbaston brought a slightly early end to proceedings.

Anderson’s prognosis remains unclear but the continued absence of a player Woakes feels is “the best fast bowler that’s ever lived” is a concern for his team-mate.

Woakes said: “I was gutted for Jimmy, he’s obviously dying to play more than anyone and wants to play more than anyone.

“But it wasn’t right which was unfortunate for him and unfortunate for us as a team with him being the best fast bowler that’s ever lived, in my opinion, with the amount of wickets he’s taken and all that.

“(His absence) is a bit of a blow but at the same time us as a unit have to go out there and try to do the job.

“Moving forward, I actually don’t know (whether he will be available on Sunday). The fact he hasn’t taken much part in the game so far doesn’t look too promising but I actually don’t know.

“It’s a well-poised Ashes Test match. It’s been a great Test match so far, reasonably even. We’re pretty happy having them 30 for three.

“If we can start well in the morning, two big wickets up front could be quite crucial. All of a sudden if you have them 50 or 60 for five, it’s a big turning point. Tomorrow morning, as always, is important.”

The only troubling moment on Saturday for Smith, who has compiled exactly 200 runs in this Specsavers series opener, was when he took a blow to the side of the helmet after missing an attempted pull off Ben Stokes.

Woakes recognises the significance of accounting for the former Australia captain as early as possible but revealed bowling on this pitch is becoming ever more problematic.

He added: “We saw how destructive was at the back end of the first innings, he scored over half the runs, so it’s important we try to get him out. He’s a world-class player.

“I think on this surface in particular, it’s hard to force the issue as a bowler.

“The pace has gone out of the pitch so you almost have to build pressure, maybe attack at the other end and hold at the other, and build pressure to make sure the batsman makes a mistake.

“But Steve doesn’t make too many mistakes.”

Smith’s blow saw a gap in play as he chatted with a couple of England players before being treated by the team doctor. There seemed to be no lingering effects as he batted to the close.

Asked about Smith’s condition, Australia paceman James Pattinson confirmed he was OK before paying tribute to a batsman who has excelled in this fixture despite being routinely jeered by the crowd for his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal.

Pattinson said: “It was quite a good reaction from him wasn’t it? We had a little bit of a chuckle in the dressing-room. He always puts a bit of mayo on things. He seems to be fine now.

“Without him we would be in a bit of trouble. He’s a fantastic player and to do it after everything he’s been through and he’s been copping a bit from the crowd, which has amused a lot of people.

“But to his credit, he just gets on with it and he’s a fantastic player. He’s someone who lifts the group when he’s out there.”

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