Ashes 2019: Root under no pressure as England captain, claims Bayliss

By Sports Desk September 10, 2019

Joe Root's position as England captain is not under threat, according to outgoing coach Trevor Bayliss.

Root's captaincy has been questioned from outside the England camp during the Ashes series, with Australia retaining the Ashes with one Test to spare thanks to their 185-run win at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The 28-year-old was appointed Test skipper following Alastair Cook's resignation in 2017, but England have struggled to find their best form in the longest form of the game under the Yorkshireman's leadership.

Despite the fate of the Ashes being already decided, Bayliss – who oversaw England's rise to dominance in one-day cricket and will leave his post at the end of the series – insists Root is not under scrutiny.

"He hasn't come under any questions from anyone making any decisions so he is under no pressure at all," Bayliss told a news conference ahead of the final Test at The Oval.

"Everyone goes through periods where they might not score quite as many runs as they would like. I think the Australian team have bowled pretty well to him.

"Let's see how things go further down the line, but from my point of view he's our premier batter and knowing the Australian way, they always try and target the opposition captain.

"He's batted well on occasions through this series when he's got a start. I don't see too many problems really."

In spite of calls for a shake-up to the Test side, England have named an unchanged squad for the final match, and Bayliss believes the selection policy throughout the series has been correct.

"I've been quite happy with the selections," he said. "The first thing you've got to say is, 'Who else is going to come in?'. That's one point.

"After three Tests in this series, either team could have been up 3-0 I thought. We had our chances when they were 120-8 in the first Test, second Test we finished on top and the game was a draw and the third Test, Australia could have won that and the first two so, as I said, it could have been 3-0 either way.

"If you think about it that way, we can't have got the selections too wrong."

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    Jordan Henderson demanded an apology from Krasimir Balakov after the Bulgaria head coach did not offer outright condemnation of the racist abuse directed towards England players during their 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win in Sofia.

    Play was stopped twice before half-time during a comfortable victory for Gareth Southgate's men on Monday, with an address over the Vasil Levski National Stadium urging an end to racist chanting before a number of Bulgaria fans were removed from the ground.

    England players informed the match officials of the discriminatory behaviour and an abandonment looked possible at one stage, although Harry Kane would ultimately round out an emphatic scoreline set in motion by Marcus Rashford's blistering opener and embellished by braces from Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley.

    Henderson exchanged words with Balakov during one of the breaks in play and was aghast when he heard the 53-year-old had stated after the game that the allegations of racism must be "proven", choosing instead to criticise the behaviour of England supporters and a pre-match focus upon a potential for racist incidents.

    "I had a few words with the manager. It wasn't acceptable – something needs to be done," the Liverpool captain told Sky Sports News.

    "He needs to apologise now, really, on behalf of the team and the fans. He knows what was going on. He was asking me what the problem was.

    "When I told him he knew what was going on, it was baffling how he didn't, really. Hopefully he looks back and apologises because anyone watching that game would be disgusted really."

    England discussed whether they should resume the match at half-time and Henderson, angered by what had transpired, took pride in their unanimous response in the face of adversity.

    "I felt angry," he said. "They're my team-mates, my friends who I've known for a long time and I share a dressing room with.

    "It was shocking to see. I was so angry at one point but the game goes on, you've got to switch the focus to the football.

    "At half-time we spoke about it, we wanted to carry on. If one person said they didn't want to go out then we wouldn't have done and that would have been it.

    "But everybody's message was we wanted to make them suffer and not make them win. I felt we did that brilliantly."

  • Kick It Out demands UEFA 'show leadership' after England players receive racial abuse in Bulgaria Kick It Out demands UEFA 'show leadership' after England players receive racial abuse in Bulgaria

    Anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out has slammed UEFA for its handling of England's Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria, and its previous punishments for racial abuse.

    England's 6-0 win on Monday was halted twice in the first half, with the match seemingly set to be abandoned amid chants from sections of Bulgaria's support at Vasil Levski National Stadium, which was partially shut due to previous incidents of racist abuse from some home supporters.

    Gareth Southgate's England elected to come back out for the second half, with a group of Bulgaria fans ejected from the ground during the second stoppage.

    During the first stoppage, a message was read out over the public address system – following UEFA's three-step protocol for tackling incidents of abuse at games.

    However, Kick It Out has questioned why the protocol was not followed afterwards, while criticising UEFA's attempts at tackling racism.

    "We are sickened by the disgusting racist abuse directed at England men's team tonight by Bulgaria supporters – including TV footage which appeared to show Nazi salutes and monkey noises," Kick It Out stated.

    "We applaud Gareth Southgate, his staff and players for the actions taken in reporting the abhorrent abuse, and offer our full support to the entire squad, their families and anyone affected by those appalling scenes.

    "We are encouraged that the protocol was initially enforced by the match officials, but UEFA must explain why players weren't sent to the dressing room during Step Two, as is clearly stated in the rules.

    "TV footage also clearly shows that racist abuse continued in the second half, so it is unacceptable that Step Three was not enforced. This match should have been abandoned by the officials.

    "It's now time for UEFA to step up and show some leadership. For far too long, they have consistently failed to take effective action.

    "The fact Bulgaria are already hosting this game with a partial stadium closure for racist abuse shows that UEFA's sanctions are not fit for purpose.

    "There can be no more pitiful fines or short stadium bans. If UEFA care at all about tackling discrimination – and if the Equal Game campaign means anything – then points deductions and tournament expulsion must follow."

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