Having become the first England captain to lose a home Test against West Indies for 17 years, Joe Root conceded his players had been beaten by the better side at Headingley but said he did not regret his decision to declare on the fourth evening and would continue to take positive options in pursuit of victory in future.
England only managed to take five wickets on the final day - one of them a run-out that came via yet another dropped catch - as West Indies were led home by an unbeaten century from Shai Hope. The result levelled the series at 1-1 and completed a huge swing in fortunes, after West Indies' innings defeat in Edgbaston, as well as compounding England's reputation for inconsistency as a Test side.
"In hindsight it's easy to say the declaration might not have been timed right but I thought last night it was a positive thing to do," Root said. "We're a side that want to go out there and win Test matches, we got ourselves in a position where we can do that - but credit to the West Indies, they played really well today. They made it difficult to get on top of them, create much pressure against them."
England had been eight down with Chris Woakes, on 61, and Stuart Broad both unbeaten at the crease when they were waved in. With England 1-0 up in the series, it was an attacking move by Root, captaining a Test on his home ground for the first time. Perhaps he should have been more wary of the local lore: of the four captains to lose a Test in England after declaring the third innings, three have now come at Headingley.
Sitting uncomfortably alongside Norman Yardley in 1948 and Adam Gilchrist (deputising for Steve Waugh) in 2001, is now Root in 2017. Asked if it had been the most difficult experience of his captaincy so far, he admitted: "It was tough".
Root trusted his senior attack of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who bowled more than half of the overs, but England were again let down by their catching - most damagingly when Alastair Cook dropped Kraigg Brathwaite on 4. Moeen Ali was tried from both ends but, although he did eventually remove Brathwaite for 95 on the stroke of tea, he was unable to maintain pressure as the contest began to tilt towards West Indies.
Ben Stokes was not introduced until the 48th over and only bowled five overs, something Root conceded he may have done differently a second time around. While admitting "the surface didn't misbehave as much as we might have thought or liked", Root said there had never been any thought of trying to play for the draw once Brathwaite and Hope were settled.
"I thought the best chance of slowing things down was to take wickets," Root said. "As the game progressed, wickets were the best way of us getting the result. It would have been very easy to try and go 7-2 and go at two an over but I wanted to take the positive option and put them under pressure by taking wickets.
"Last night we were in a position where we could win the game, it was a fifth-day wicket and maybe we slightly misread the surface. Looking at two guys who've taken nearly 900 Test wickets between them, and the other bowlers we have available, on a fifth-day pitch, I thought we had a great opportunity to win the game."
England's failures were not limited to the final day. Having chosen to bat first - rather than put West Indies' batsmen in the firing line again after they had been dismissed for 168 and 137 at Edgbaston - Root acknowledged their first-innings total of 258 was not enough. Ben Stokes made a hundred (having been dropped on 9), Root made fifty (having been dropped on 8) but the next-highest scores was Woakes' 23. West Indies then compiled 427 to give a truer reflection of the pitch.
"I think if we're being brutally honest we weren't as good as we can be," he said. "To bat first, win the toss and only make what we did was not anywhere near what we're capable of. We didn't see that the ball was moving around and we maybe could have played that slightly differently. Again guys got in and got out and didn't support Stokesy, I thought he played tremendously well in that first innings. It was a slightly bowler-friendly wicket, it did surprise me having seen it. Sun out at the toss, it looked like a dead-cert bat-first.
"The most pleasing thing for me was the way we fought back into the game. Previously, when we've been behind the eight-ball, we've struggled to do that. I thought we showed great character, great determination and fight to get in a position last night where we could declare and try and get a win. Looking at the back end of day two, that was an unlikely possibility … [just] very frustrating that we weren't able to take the ten wickets today."
England's catching has periodically been cause for concern over recent years and there were four drops on the final day, to go with two in West Indies' first innings. England benefited from seven themselves but it was not enough to keep them ahead in the series.
"You've got to take your chances in Test cricket," Root said. "When you get to this level, if you give guys chances, they generally go on and hurt you. It's been a strange Test match, there's been so many catches go down. It's not always the easiest viewing ground … But we have to be better."