LONDON (Reuters) - England captain Joe Root spoke of his pride in his team after they won the final test against Australia by 135 runs on Sunday to draw the Ashes series 2-2.
Australia won the fourth test in Manchester last week to move 2-1 ahead and retain the Ashes but the hosts battled back at The Oval to deny the touring side their first test series win in England since 2001.
“It is Ashes cricket,” Root said. “Every game you turn up and you are playing for your country. It means so much to everyone. You can see at different periods someone wrestled it back into our favour.”
England made 294 in their first innings after being put into bat and Jofra Archer took six wickets as Australia were bowled out for 225 to give the hosts control of the match.
“For the first time in this series we felt in front of the game all of the way through. We have to get used to it more and more,” Root said.
Joe Denly made a battling 94 to ensure England had a healthy lead and despite Matthew Wade’s defiant century, fast bowler Stuart Broad and spinner Jack Leach took four wickets each on the fourth day to secure victory for Root’s side.
“I thought we were brilliant,” the captain said. “To bounce back from a very difficult emotional week, to come and play in the manner we have, the team has character in abundance.”
England had been criticised for some lacklustre performances in the Ashes following their World Cup victory on home soil and Root admitted they had not been good enough at times.
“This was more of a template of how to play moving forward,” he said. “It is a step in the right direction. I am very proud of everyone’s effort throughout the summer.”
Archer was part of the World Cup-winning side before making his test debut against the Australians at Lord’s.
He hit Australia’s Steve Smith with a short ball which forced the batsman to miss the third test, but Smith returned for the final two matches to take his tally for the series to 774 runs.
“From the moment I have put an England shirt on it has been exciting cricket,” Archer said. “I am glad we were able to draw the series. Jeez... bowling at Steve Smith was a task. I am glad to see the back of him.”
Editing by Clare Fallon