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Root confirms Buttler's series over, praises team's 'small step forward'

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9th January, 2022
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England captain Joe Root has praised his team’s spirit after holding on four a draw in a thrilling finish to the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.

However, he has revealed vice-captain and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler will miss the series finale in Hobart, after suffering a finger injury on day two.

“Jos Buttler’s going to have to fly home,” Root said after play.

“It was quite a serious injury. For him to be able to front up and put in as he did from that moment he took that knock shows how much he cares, shows how much it means for him to play in this Test team and how much it means for him to play for England.”

While Buttler did not keep wicket in Australia’s second innings, with substitute Ollie Pope taking the gloves after potential replacement Jonny Bairstow suffered his own injury, but batted twice under duress, managing 0 and 11 to extend his wretched tour with the bat.

However, Root was full of praise for his wounded deputy, as well as Ben Stokes (side strain) and Bairstow (finger), for playing through the pain.

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“A lot of the guys could see a number of players hurting physically and still putting in a huge amount,” he said.

“In many ways it lifted the rest of the group. I’m really proud of the way that they stood up at times, clearly in a lot of pain, to produce for England.”

Joe Root and Ben Stokes.

Joe Root and Ben Stokes walk out after lunch during day five of the fourth Test. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Root says he and the team will take some solace out of the fighting result, and avoiding a third Ashes whitewash on Australian shores in the last 15 years.

He described the effort as a ‘small step forward’ as the recovery from their disastrous first three Tests of the summer begins.

“Coming into the game, I spoke a lot about putting some pride back into English cricket and into the Test performances,” Root said.

“The fight and the desire, the character shown today and throughout the five days has done that in a small way.

“Obviously we go into every Test match wanting to win and win convincingly but from the position we found ourselves in at certain points within this game, to be able to sit here having drawn, at the start of the day [it] was always going to take a good performance.

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“I’m really proud of the way the guys dug in and managed to do that.”

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Uncapped wicketkeeper Sam Billings looks the most likely choice to replace Buttler with the gloves in Hobart, having been called up to the Test squad during a BBL stint with the Sydney Thunder.

Having planned to join England’s limited-overs squad in heading home ahead of a T20I tour of the Caribbean, Billings made the nine-hour drive from Brisbane to Sydney to join the team. He will need to finish a period of isolation before joining the team in earnest.

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Bairstow and Pope are also in contention to take the wicketkeeping role, but the former’s injury and the latter’s potential recall as a batter leave England’s selectors with plenty of questions heading into the final Test of the series.

Stokes is also in doubt for the Test after suffering a side strain on day two in Sydney.

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