CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (Reuters) - Captain Joe Root believes England have a better idea of the direction they are heading after their long tour Down Under came to a disappointing conclusion with the side failing to secure a victory in seven tests against Australia and New Zealand.
A defiant rearguard action by New Zealand prevented the tourists from converting a promising position into a win in the second test on Tuesday, the draw in Christchurch giving the hosts their first series win over England since 1999.
That followed a chastening 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia and extended England’s run to 13 matches without an overseas test triumph since they beat Bangladesh in October 2016.
“You want to play in big series and we’ve had the opportunity to do that this winter,” Root said in the on-pitch presentation ceremony at Hagley Oval after England fell two wickets short of victory.
“Unfortunately, it’s not gone as well as we’d liked. But we have to pick ourselves up and make sure that when we come to the start of the summer, we’re all switched on and we take the good stuff we’ve done this week into it.”
England’s hopes of winning the series were all but undone when they were bundled out for 58 in the first innings of the day-night opening test in Auckland as the frailties of their batting was exposed. They lost by an innings and 49 runs.
“Bar that first innings, we’ve played some good cricket and especially in this game, I think we showed what we are about,” he added.
A better start in Christchurch put them in a position to finally end their winless streak on Tuesday, but they were unable to dismiss New Zealand after starting the last day by taking two wickets in as many balls.
“I’m very proud of way we went about it,” Root added.
“We did throw absolutely everything at New Zealand, tried a number of different things, few balls just out of reach towards the back end and you need a bit of luck sometimes and unfortunately it wasn’t there for us today.”
Despite England’s already long tour, Root said he would have been happier had the series against New Zealand been decided over three tests.
“I thought this was a great advert for test cricket, these five days,” he said.
“Coming down to this morning and every result was possible and obviously at the end there, that made for great viewing.
“It’s a shame, but that’s the way it is.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by John O'Brien