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Root digs in to demand improvement from England

Cricket is a game played by gentlemen.

A press conference conducted by sportsmen whose pride hurts as though a beamer caught it in a sensitive area is another matter altogether. Joe Root neglected his Ps and Qs yesterday to offer a more robust appraisal of England and his role as part of the side which sustained a 157-run loss to Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street as the tourists levelled the five-match Royal London series at 1-1.

The two sides will resume tomorrow at Emirates Old Trafford, with the hosts confident that captain Alastair Cook can recover from the groin strain which sidelined him in the last match. There will be hopes too that England can show similar powers of recovery and arrest a slump in one-day internationals that would become more apparent at Chester-le-Street on Sunday.

Neither stand-in captain Eoin Morgan nor Root have sought to find an excuse for their team's capitulation, instead dismissing their performance in as harsh terms as can be deemed printable. The sense of frustration has been most acute for Root as he was bowled for a third-ball duck as England fell to 99 all out in just 26.1 overs.

"We don't want fans turning up for games and seeing a performance like that," he said yesterday. "It's quite embarrassing."

That may not be as great a concern given that attendances have fallen for one-day internationals. Only Lord's is expected to be a sell-out in this series.

Root is convinced that supporters will return in good numbers, but only if his England team improve on the field. "Sometimes you get emotional on the day of the game, [so] it's better to leave it a few days and then discuss it as a side," he said.

"We have got to make sure we're very honest with ourselves and don't let a performance like that happen again. The one way to get people to come and watch you is to win games and we have to make sure we can do that consistently, earn the right for people to want to come and watch us.

"We don't want to play like that, where people come to watch and feel let down. We want to make sure everyone who comes in is impressed by what they see and want to come again."

England are not, however, about to lose faith in the ability they demonstrated last week when they took an early lead in the series with an 81-run success at The Oval. "We can't really worry about it too much," Root added. "We played some really good cricket at The Oval, which was not even a week ago now.

"If we do play at the top of our game we're going to beat sides like Sri Lanka. If we're being brutally honest it just wasn't a good enough performance from the whole team, especially the batters."

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