England captain Joe Root struggled to explain his team’s 381-run defeat by West Indies in the first test in Barbados on Saturday, suggesting the result was an aberration that did not reflect the true quality of his team.
“We’ve still got two very important games in this series and it’s crucial we bounce back very quickly, very strong, which we’re more than capable of doing,” Root said in an on-field interview.
“We’ve been in this position before and we’ve shown great character and application in managing to turn things around and hopefully we can manage to do that again this time.
“All the guys are hurting and will be desperate to put it right in Antigua.”
England will not have to wait long for a chance of revenge, with the second test starting at North Sound on the island of Antigua on Thursday.
Root refused to be second-guessed over team selection. The visitors omitted proven pace bowler Stuart Broad, instead going with two spinners, as leggie Adil Rashid joined off-spinner Moeen Ali in the line-up.
But Rashid, who did not take a wicket, was ineffectual, while 20-year-old medium-fast Sam Curran picked up only one wicket on a Kensington Oval pitch that was hard to read.
The home team, meanwhile, went with a four-pronged pace attack and no specialist slow bowler.
That was hardly noticed in the first innings when the quicks, led by Kemar Roach with five wickets, dismissed England for 77.
But scalps were harder to come by in the second innings and West Indies were fortunate to be bailed out by part-time off-spinner Roston Chase, who etched his name in the record books by taking eight wickets for 60.
“After a test match it’s very easy to make selections, once you’ve seen exactly how the surface is going to play,” Root said.
“If you look at the way the game panned out over four days, no-one would have seen the pattern of play as it unfolded.
“Yes, we could have gone down a different route in terms of selection but it doesn’t protect the way we played.”
England started their series in the Caribbean as hot favourites, coming off two big series wins against India (4-1 at home) and Sri Lanka (3-0 away).
“We’re a far better side than we’ve gone about things this week,” Root said.
“We have to … take responsibility and turn it to Antigua and perform much better than we have done, making sure we come back hard and we’re ready for everything that surface is going to throw at us.”