Joe Root reaction after England’s 3-0 series loss to Australia

Ashes, Cricket, featured, Joe Root

Is this the worst England team to tour Australia? Joe Root’s shambolic outfit is careering towards Ashes ignominy, on track to become just the fourth England side in history to suffer a series whitewash Down Under.

Something drastic would have to change on-field – or perhaps even the intervention of further virus-related chaos off-field – for England to avoid the same fate that befell the touring teams of 1920-21, 2006-07 and 2013-14.

In the past, they have at least been in the contest, with Australia’s greatest Test outfit pulling off an improbable victory in Adelaide in 2006-07.

In 2013-14, England were in every Test before Brad Haddin often dug the hosts out of several holes.

But this time around, there are few excuses for an England team that finds itself 3-0 down after a comprehensive innings and 14-run thrashing at the MCG.

Put bluntly, the tourists’ 68 all out on Tuesday summed up a horror three weeks since the start of the Gabba Test.

It means the current series has been decided inside 12 days of cricket – the fastest Australia have retained the urn since 2002-03 – and the hosts have now sealed the Ashes within three Tests in eight of the past nine home series.

Joe Root of England edges a ball to Alex Carey off the bowling of Mitchell Starc of Australia during day one of the Third Test match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 26, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Joe Root of England edges a ball to Alex Carey. (Photo by Darrian Traynor – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

“I’m absolutely gutted,” England captain Root said. “We’re bitterly disappointed to find ourselves in this position.

“There are two Test matches to go and we have to try to make sure we come away from this tour with a couple of wins.

“They’ve definitely outplayed us in the three games. We’ve not been good enough.”

Root was asked if he had any reflections on his own position as captain, but said it would be selfish to think of himself at this time.

“My energy has to be all about trying to win the next game. I can’t be selfish and start thinking about myself,” he said.

“More than anything, we’ve got to make sure we end up coming away from this tour with something.”

Root said the team needed to respond to “give the people back home something to enjoy and celebrate.”

Root, 30, has had the strongest year of his career with the bat. His 1,708 runs in the calendar year are the third most by any man, behind Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousuf and West Indian Viv Richards.

However, his team has won just one of their past 12 Tests and Root told his press conference he would prefer to win a game than have personal success.

He faces a big step up to avoid a whitewash as England have won only four Tests in Australia this century and are winless in Australia since the Sydney Test in 2011.

“We got ourselves into a position when we were in the match,” Root told Test Match Special.

“It’s very frustrating – the way we bowled and went about that was excellent, the best we’ve been all tour.

“We know we have to be better. We can’t hide behind any excuses, there are clear areas we need to work on and we’ve got two opportunities with the last two Test matches.”

Root has led England in 59 Tests since replacing Alastair Cook in February 2017, winning 27, losing 24 and drawing eight.

England head coach Chris Silverwood said that England “have to find a way to compete”.

“It is something we’ll be reflecting on. We want to take something away from this series,” he told BT Sport.

“We had disruption yesterday morning but the way the bowlers rallied was a credit to them and the way we caught in that innings was good too.

“There is positives coming out of that.”

Puzzling selection decisions have hurt England this summer, with veteran quicks Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson left out of the first Test in Brisbane and Mark Wood not picked for Adelaide.

The tourists’ bowlers have come in for huge criticism, particularly at Adelaide Oval, where Root admitted they bowled too short.

Anderson, in a column for The Telegraph in England, put that back on the team’s support staff for not communicating the relevant analytical data from the dressing room.

In Melbourne it was again the batters, with their woeful 92.5 overs across two innings not befitting of a bowling attack that reduced Australia to 267.

The problem has been from the top, with England’s openers failing dismally.

Only once – in the second innings in Brisbane, where Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns put on 23 – has the first wicket produced more than seven runs.

Root has also been unable to produce his best, called in before the eighth over in four of six innings and still unable to convert a half-century to a hundred.

In many ways, it’s symbolic of England’s issues in the past decade.

Some 74 batters the world over have averaged at 40 or more in that time. Just two of them are English: Root and Alastair Cook.

The woes didn’t end there, with the 54 ducks England recorded in the 2021 calendar year the equal most in history with their countrymen of 1998.

It is fitting of a touring team that could well go down as England’s worst in history.

And at the end of the game Root was left to shoulder the spotlight alone as his teammates left the field.

“What I didn’t like, when Joe Root was doing the press and doing the interview with Gilly, and I didn’t see any other England players out there. I didn’t like that,” Vaughan told Fox Cricket.

“I didn’t like the fact that the England players – they went straight down into the dressing room. They’re embarrassed.

“And of course you’re embarrassed. You’ve just performed poorly, you’ve just been bowled out for 68. Show face, get on the pitch, support your captain.

“The captain’s going to answer all the questions now, he has done. Well, his team have got to be right beside him even in the tough times.”

(With AAP)

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