Under Root’s captaincy, England took their alarming losing sequence to six defeats in eight Tests as they succumbed limply by nine wickets to Pakistan in the first match of the home summer.
The Yorkshireman was not hiding away from evident problems after England were dispatched early on day four at Lord’s – where they were bowled out for 184 after he chose to bat in the first innings and then could set Pakistan only 64 to win after mustering 242 at their second attempt.
It was the continuation of a miserable theme, established through last winter’s 4-0 Ashes trouncing and 1-0 setback in New Zealand – and all the more concerning that it has followed them home.
“We know we’re under-performing ... we’ve not performed to anywhere we need to,” said Root, whose side must win at Headingley in the second NatWest Test to avoid series defeat.
“It’s very difficult to take as a talented group of players ... [but] we fully believe we can get to where we want to get to.”
Asked for his message to those who follow England in the hope of improvement, Root added: “Keep the faith, keep trusting, keep believing. We’ve got to ... just find a way.”
Following the previous evening’s brief fightback, Jos Buttler (67) and Dom Bess (57) could add only a combined three runs as England lost their last four wickets for seven runs in 25 balls to be bowled out for 242.
Chasing 64 to win, Pakistan lost an early wicket, James Anderson seeing off Azhar Ali, but otherwise the tourists completed their straightforward task without alarm and well in time for lunch.
“We’ve been outplayed across all three departments - and in particular, it was disappointing with the bat first up,” said Root. “It really hurt us not getting the score we needed.
“We were well below par and always chasing the game really, trying to find a way back in.”
Coach Trevor Bayliss added: “[This] was nowhere near good enough for Test level ... to be bowled out for 180 and 240 is simply not good enough. The batters have to have a good, hard, long look at themselves.”
Pakistan, by contrast, could scarcely be faulted. Their captain Sarfraz Ahmed believes victory over Ireland the previous week served as ideal preparation. “If you see Malahide and here, we improved a lot,” he said. “It was a perfect Test match, before the big series.”