England skipper Joe Root has hit back at suggestions from his old mentor Michael Vaughan that his side do not respect Test cricket after slumping to a 340-run defeat in the second showdown against South Africa.
Set a world record 474 for victory, England were bowled out for a paltry 133 in their second innings under cloudless skies at Trent Bridge as the Proteas emphatically levelled the four-match Investec series at 1-1.
England’s two innings lasted a combined 96.1 overs as they slumped to their eighth defeat in 13 Tests, although five of those matches were against India in notoriously difficult subcontinental conditions.
“The England batting has been appalling,” said former England captain Vaughan. “Maybe it’s a lack of respect about what the game is. They look like they are playing a Twenty20 game.”
Vaughan was not alone in deriding England’s performance. Nasser Hussain, another former captain, described their batting as “a rubbish brand” and urged players to value their wicket more.
Root acknowledged in the aftermath of defeat that England perhaps need to lose their gung-ho style, which had initially served them well until cracks began to appear last summer, and adopt a more traditional approach.
But the assessment of Vaughan, a man who Root has known since childhood, clearly angered the 26-year-old. He retorted: “I think that’s very unfair – I can’t believe he’s actually said that to be honest.
“We pride ourselves on winning series like this and unfortunately we’ve played poorly this week but the most important thing now is to respond well and make sure we put it right [in next week’s third Test] at the Oval.”
There was no respite for out-of-form duo Keaton Jennings and Gary Ballance who struck three and four respectively, although only opener Alastair Cook offered any true resistance with a 76-ball knock of 42.
Despite their batting woes, Root would not be drawn on whether there would be any changes for the third Test, which starts on 27 July, but hinted he was opposed to a widespread reshuffle.
“We will sit down over the next couple of days,” he added. “The top six are talented players and they will be desperate to make their chances count when they come along.
“The way they’ve gone about things in practice and the runs they’ve scored in county cricket have been outstanding and now it’s just about doing it in international cricket.”
Some decisions may be taken out of the Yorkshireman’s hands; Ballance was sent for an X-ray on his left index finger after being struck by South Africa paceman Morne Morkel, while seamer Mark Wood’s bruised heel will be monitored.
Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj claimed three wickets apiece, while all-rounder Chris Morris and rookie seamer Duane Olivier two each, as South Africa ensured Root’s honeymoon as England skipper lasted just two games.