'I want to be the man to bring the Ashes back to England' - Joe Root
Joe Root has said he wants to be "at the front" of England's progression over the next three years, and thinks that he is the man to captain them to an Ashes victory in Australia in 2021-22.
Root's captaincy repeatedly came under pressure during the series. Batting in his unfavoured position of No. 3, he failed to make a hundred and was dismissed without scoring three times, though finished with an average of 32.50.
He was also criticised for turning to Jofra Archer too often when seeking a breakthrough, and seemed to be struggling with the pressures of the role despite repeatedly stating his desire to continue as captain.
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But after leading his side to a series-levelling win at The Oval, Root told Sky: "I want to be leading this team, and be the man to bring the Ashes back to England."
"We're very much driven towards [that series]" said Root. "We've got two-and-a-half years to prepare very well for it. I think it's going to be a real focus for English cricket to make sure we do everything we can to be in the best possible space for that.
"I want to be at the front of that."
"This week in particular it looked like we'd started to get to grips with Test cricket after a very long period of one-day cricket," he added. "It was more of a blueprint of how we want to go about playing, but there were still things we can get better at.
"We've got a period now and an opportunity in the next two-and-a-half years to really push and do everything we can to prepare extremely well for that tour of Australia. That's going to be a huge focus for me and I'd like to hope for English cricket.
Root added that the manner in which England squared the series at The Oval, dominating the contest despite losing the toss, augured well for how he hoped they would come together in future engagements, starting with tours of New Zealand and South Africa this winter.
"I thought the performance this week was closer to where we want to be as a template moving forward in Test cricket," he said. "I thought we drove the game pretty much the whole time from that first session on day one and that's really pleasing.
"We got ourselves in a position of strength and at no point did we really let them back in, which after a difficult week - like Manchester was - was exactly what you want, your team to step up.
"Throughout the series we've shown a lot of character, at times we've been outskilled and we've been sloppy for the odd hour here and there which has cost us, but we've always fought very hard and that's a very pleasing thing to look at moving forward.
"There's always things you want to get better at and learn from but that's something that's quite hard to instil in players. Hopefully that'll be a massive stepping stone and starting point for us to kick on as a team."
Ben Stokes, who was re-appointed as Root's vice-captain at the start of the Test summer, said that Root was "100 percent" the man to lead England forward, and paid tribute to the players that had come into the side in the past year.
"Everyone who has come into the Test side in the winter and this summer has [put] their hand up and shown that they can compete at the highest level.
"We've been challenged by some seriously good fast bowling as we've always known [we would be], and Rory Burns and Joe Denly as the new guys in the team have shown what they can do.
"I think Rory Burns has been knocking on the door for a long time, and I think we started to see this series what he can offer."
Root echoed Stokes' praise for the new opening pair.
"They played very well throughout the series on very difficult surfaces against a very good attack," he said. "You have to take that all into consideration - it's been hard at the top of the order.
"Guys have got stuck in at times, it's been very difficult. They've stood up to it. You know, they've made some very valuable contributions. They should be very proud of their efforts."
Root also paid tribute to departing head coach Trevor Bayliss, hailing his contribution to England's limited-overs set-up in particular.
"Trev is brilliant," Root said. "He's obviously added a huge amount to this Test team. He's been involved in some fantastic series wins, both home and away.
"And what he's done for white-ball cricket for English cricket is phenomenal. He's very much valued in the dressing room, he's got a great sense of humour. We all played for him this week, and I'm really pleased to send him off in a great fashion."