Joe Root was delighted to end English cricket’s golden summer on a high after drawing the Ashes, but will not rest until the urn is back on home soil.
The England captain arrived at The Oval this week knowing Australia would retain after taking an unassailable lead in Manchester last week, but walked off the field having squared the scoreline at 2-2 with a 135-run victory.
By bowling out the tourists for 263 – Stuart Broad and Jack Leach sharing eight wickets and Root’s part-time off-spin responsible for the other two – England not only averted a first home defeat in the series since 2001, but also ended their World Cup-winning domestic campaign on a high.
“I was desperate to win this series but 2-2 looks a hell of a lot better than 3-1, that’s for sure,” said Root.
“What a summer of cricket it’s been. The World Cup was incredible, fantastic viewing. The cricket was gripping and to back it up with such an evenly matched Ashes series…for English cricket, that’s a success.”
It does not take much for Root to reveal his primary ambition, though, to finally lead his country to victory against their biggest rivals.
He oversaw a 4-0 loss at the first attempt, has gone one better this time and is now fully focused on doing whatever it takes to get the job done behind enemy lines in 2021-22.
“Hopefully this will be a massive stepping stone and the starting point for us to kick on as a team,” he said.
“We’ve got an opportunity now to really push and do everything we can to prepare extremely well for that next tour of Australia. That’s going to be a huge focus for me and, I’d like to hope, for English cricket.
“That’s got to be our main focus – going down there and winning. Every Test match between now and then is an opportunity to push your case. I’m desperate to take this team forward and I will do everything I can to prepare us for that series.”
No Englishman emerges from the last few months in greater credit than Ben Stokes, the hero of the World Cup final at Lord’s and the man behind a contender for best Test innings of all time to keep the series alive at Headingley.
Both moments will live long in the memory but Root’s vice-captain insisted he would trade personal glory for team success.
“It was disappointing to know we couldn’t get the Ashes back but we came here with a lot of pride and looking to draw the series,” said Stokes.
“I’ll look back on winning at Headingley in a few years’ time with fond memories probably, but I’d swap it for winning the Ashes.”
Visiting captain Tim Paine had hoped to be Australia’s first captain to win in England for 18 years but was more than happy with the consolation prize.
“We’re taking the urn home, that’s certainly what we came here to do,” he said.
“Overall, if you’d said we would’ve been taking them home, we’d have jumped out and taken it.
“To be captain of a team that’s come here and retained the Ashes is something that I’m sure I’ll never forget.”
Copy provided by Press Association Sport
Trevor Bayliss has completed his work as England’s head coach after four years at the helm.
Here, the PA news agency looks at those who might be vying to replace him.
England’s pace bowling coach is the leading candidate among Bayliss’ existing staff, though Graham Thorpe may be interested too. He ticks key boxes as both a homegrown option and one with tangible success on his CV, having won both divisions of the County Championship with Essex.
A former Test captain with gravitas and experience to burn. As director of cricket at Surrey he has an exhaustive knowledge of the county game. Whether or not he is willing and able to take on the demands of the job is unclear.
Well versed in the international game after stints in charge of both the West Indies and South Africa and has enjoyed two separate spells as England’s pace bowling coach. Would need to persuade the ECB that he has fresh ideas.
Like Gibson a seasoned campaigner on the global circuit but, after spells as boss of South Africa, Australia and Pakistan, could be deemed stale.
Highly fancied to get the job when interviewed four years ago only for Andrew Strauss to opt for Bayliss. England may baulk at going for two Australians in a row and, though respected, his work at Sussex has not been as successful as his prior engagement at Yorkshire.
And the ones who are otherwise engaged
The ECB have recently appointed eight head coaches for the inaugural season of The Hundred next year. Of those Gary Kirsten, Tom Moody, Andrew McDonald and Stephen Fleming might all have been possible options for the England job.
Copy provided by Press Association Sport
England ended their memorable summer by earning a 2-2 draw in the Ashes with a 135-run defeat of Australia in the fifth Test.
On a beautifully sunny day at The Oval, England set Australia 399 to win and bowled them out for 263 to square the contest with their oldest enemies in a year when they lifted the World Cup for the first time.
Australia retain the urn they won in 2017-18 but miss out on a first series win in England since 2001, while an Ashes series is drawn for the first time in 47 years.
Here are how the England players rated during the course of the five-Test series, according to PA.
Rory Burns: His 390 runs in the series made him easily the standout opener of the summer. Started with a century at Edgbaston and made two more 50s as he faced down Australia’s short-ball tactics. Caught well. 8
Jason Roy: England hoped to transplant his one-day brilliance into the Test team but the experiment was an unequivocal failure before he was axed at his home ground. 2
Joe Denly: Did not look up to standard at the start of the series but knuckled down impressively, even after being shunted up to opener from number four. Signed off with a career-best 94 at The Oval. 6
Joe Root: Three ducks and four half-centuries are a middling return for the team’s leading batsman. Root judges himself by the highest standards and will not be pleased by the lack of a major score. The first England captain not to lift the urn at home since 2001. 5
Ben Stokes: Where else to start but his contender for greatest Test innings of all time at Headingley? Only Steve Smith scored more than his 441 at an average of 55.12 and his hard-working seamers brought eight wickets too. 9
Jos Buttler: Three extremely poor Tests followed by two much-improved efforts at Old Trafford and The Oval. Looks to have learned lessons but his Test cricket lags well behind his one-day brilliance. 5
Jonny Bairstow: Averaged 23.77 with a top score of 52 and seems to be in a rut against the red ball. Kept wicket better than his opposite number, Tim Paine, but might not have done enough to hold off Ben Foakes’ claims. 4
Jofra Archer: A stone-cold superstar. Followed his World Cup winner’s medal with 22 wickets at 20.27 in his first major Test series and bowled some utterly spell-binding bursts of extreme pace. 8
Chris Woakes: Curiously under-used by Root at times and not always at his best when called upon. Might have played fewer games had injuries not hit the bowling ranks. 5
Jack Leach: Catapulted into a high-pressure environment after Moeen Ali was dropped, and became a fan favourite for his brilliant supporting role to Stokes’ miracle in Leeds. Finished on a high with four wickets in the final innings of the series but must look to improve his left-arm spin. 6
Stuart Broad: Rolled back the years after being asked to lead the attack in James Anderson’s absence. Dominated David Warner and finished as England’s leading wicket-taker with 23. 8
Sam Curran: Man of the series against India last summer but only rolled out at the last moment. A bright future awaits and he will be unlucky to be left out on home soil next year. 5
Moeen Ali: Dropped after a poor show in the series opener, during which he made four runs in two innings and failed to make the most of a turning Edgbaston pitch. 2
Craig Overton: A surprising pick in the crucial fourth Test after 18 months out of the squad. Bowled heartily without much menace and batted stoically in a vain attempt to save the game. 4
James Anderson: Injured his right calf after bowling just four overs on the first morning in what will surely be his final Ashes campaign. Should England have checked his fitness with more rigour? N/A