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Second Test Review: Australia v England

— 6 December 2017

Joe Root believes England are still “massively in this series” despite going 2-0 down in Adelaide today courtesy of a 120-run defeat.

England’s hopes of retaining the Ashes, let alone winning them, are hanging by a thread with three Tests to play.

Captain Root, however, believes there are positive signs in the way his side fought back with ball and then bat in the second innings.

After conceding a 215-run lead, they bowled the Aussies out cheaply and reached 176-4 at close on day four, needing 178 more to win.

Unfortunately, they ended up being bowled out for 233.

But Yorkshire star Root is refusing to be downbeat about their hopes of success.

He said: “The way we’ve gone about the second innings has proved to everyone that we’re still massively in this series.

“We’ve shown throughout the two games, for periods, that we can outperform Australia. But just not for five days. That’s going to be our challenge.

  • “If we get that right and can perform to our ability for longer periods of time, then we will win games.

    “The belief in the dressing room is definitely there.

    “I don’t think we’re in the position we were last time we were here (5-0 in 2013/14). I think we’re in a much better place than that.

    “There’s still a lot of confidence going into the next game.”

    A MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB!

    There’s no hiding from the fact England have it all to do after a disappointing start to their Ashes defence, the latest roadblock coming under lights in South Australia.

    The Aussies have now won three successive pink ball Tests at Adelaide, also beating New Zealand and South Africa in 2015 and 2016.

    England’s batting has been a major disappointment.

    They have only reached 300 once in four innings, with the other three not passing 250.

    Their two-day game against a Cricket Australia XI in Perth at the weekend, when Gary Ballance is expected to feature for only the second time on tour, has now taken on extra importance.

    The third Test starts at the WACA in Perth on December 14.

    Success from here would definitely be a series draw, which would be enough for Root and company to bring the Urn home.

  • CAPTAINS

    Root encouraged with the bat in the second innings on the way to 67 as England were bowled out for 233 chasing 354 on days four and five.

    But he needed to go on and post his 14th Test century and his country’s first of the series to give England a chance of victory.

    But many have questioned his decision to bowl first upon winning the toss given the pitch was excellent for batting all the way through, as shown by Shaun Marsh’s excellent 126 not out.

    “There are lots of things that you look back on and maybe do differently, but that wasn’t one of them,” he said.

    “I don’t actually (regret it).

    “You want to give your bowlers the best chance to take 10 wickets, and in those conditions with the quality that we have I fully expected those guys to take 10 wickets.

    “The rain around and losing some time hampered us.

    “We would have had 10 overs with the second new ball that night (day one) that were taken away from us under lights.”

    Having said that, Steve Smith’s decision making left him sweating too, although he can at least say things turned out alright on the night.

    Firstly, and amazingly, he opted against enforcing the follow-on with England 215 behind late on day three when the floodlights were on and bowling conditions were perfect, letting the visitors back into the game.

    “Would I do the same again? I am not sure,” he admitted.

    “It has been on my mind over the last couple of days to be honest. I thought ‘have I made a mistake here?’”

    Then he had a bit of a shocker with the Decision Review System during the early stages of England’s second innings on day four.

    He opted against reviewing an lbw decision originally turned down against Alastair Cook off Josh Hazlewood’s bowling. It turned out to be thudding into leg-stump.

    He later reviewed two more not out calls against Root, one for caught behind and the other for lbw.

    He ended up being the butt of the Barmy Army jokes, although had the last laugh in victory.

  • FAIR PLAY TO NATHAN LYON

    He may not have covered himself in glory with his pre-series comments about wanting to end the careers of England players, but he has at least been able to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

    The New South Wales off-spinner has been Australia’s most dangerous weapon during the first two Tests even though Mitchell Starc has taken more wickets (14 to 11).

    Lyon has terrorised England’s left-handers and pulled off a stunner of a catch off his own bowling in the first innings to get rid of Moeen Ali.

    CAN BALLANCE FORCE HIS WAY IN FOR PERTH?

    Definitely.

    It would seem that James Vince is now under serious pressure for his place, despite posting England’s highest individual score of the series thanks to his 83 on day one at Brisbane.

    His issues since, however, stem from the fact that he has been either caught behind or in the slips eight times in his last 10 innings.

    Yorkshire fans will remember that Vince has scored fine centuries against them in Championship cricket in each of the last two seasons; at Headingley in 2016 and the Ageas Bowl in 2017.

    He demonstrated on both occasions his ability to drive the ball handsomely, although now his strength is becoming a weakness.

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