Joe Root has insisted batting first at the Gabba was the “right decision” and defended leaving out England’s two leading all-time wicket-takers in favour of Jack Leach.
The England captain admitted his team had been taught some “harsh lessons” by Australia in the first Ashes Test but stuck by his team selection after James Anderson and Stuart Broad were omitted from the side.
Root lost his seventh Test of the year as Australia won by nine wickets to go 1-0 up in the series and will now have to defy 67 years of history if they are to regain the Ashes. England have not won the series after losing the first Test in Brisbane since Len Hutton’s team in 1954-55.
Root blamed missed chances and England’s poor batting in the first hour of the Test for their defeat. England dropped David Warner in the slips, bowled him off a no-ball and missed two run out chances at crucial points in Australia’s first innings.
“There are harsh lessons that we’ve learned throughout this Test,” said Root.
“Credit to Australia, they’ve taken every chance that came their way and I can’t say the same about ourselves. Ultimately when you’re 40 for four in the first innings, it’s very difficult to get back into the game.
“But when you create as many chances as we did with the ball and not take them it’s very difficult.
“Batting first was the right decision. It did start misbehaving a little bit more today. If we had got even 250 in that first innings then the game looks very different altogether. So no, I look back at the toss and I think I would do the same thing and speaking to Pat Cummins he would have done the same thing as well.
“He would have batted first. In terms of selection, I wanted a balanced attack. I wanted to be able to change the momentum of the game and we went with the spinner.
“Credit to Australia, they took on Leachy. He had to bowl on that wicket at its worst. I probably put quite a lot of that on myself being slightly too aggressive with his fields early on. It didn’t let him get back into the series and into the game. It made it very difficult for him from that point onwards.”
There is no travelling support on this tour because of Australia’s closed borders but supporters back home will be fearing the worst and sensing another series following a familiar script.
“That’s enough of a motivation for us as a squad as much as anything, to make sure that isn’t the case,” said Root.
“As you’ve seen in the recent couple of years, this team has generally responded to difficult defeats with some strong results. We’ll have to do exactly the same on this tour.”
England collapsed from 223 for two to 297 all out after Root and Dawid Malan failed to continue their progress from day three as Australia took three wickets in the first 32 balls before polishing off the tail with the second new ball.
Nathan Lyon took his 400th Test wicket, removing Malan to spark the collapse that left Australia needing just 20 to win; the match was over 25 minutes after lunch on day four.
England were outplayed for all but two sessions of the Test leaving Root facing questions over his decision to bat first on a green pitch and leave out both Anderson and Broad only to see Jack Leach hammered out of the attack conceding 102 in 13 overs.
Both are certain to play in the pink ball Test in Adelaide from Thursday with Mark Wood and Leach likely to be left out.
Australia have injury worries over David Warner and Josh Hazlewood. Warner was hit on the ribs in the first innings and did not bat when Australia chased down their small total. Hazlewood did bowl on Saturday but was down in pace and suffering an abdominal injury.