The Ashes: Jos Buttler says England will embrace ‘hostile’ MCG as they look to keep series alive | Cricket News

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England will show a ‘backs against the wall’ attitude in Melbourne, says Jos Buttler; England looking to keep Ashes series alive and avoid record-equalling ninth Test defeat in 2021; captain Joe Root needs 159 runs to set new record for most Test runs by a batter in a calendar year

Last Updated: 25/12/21 9:04am


England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler says they are 'excited' to play in the 'hostile' atmosphere of the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the Boxing Day Test against Australia

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England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler says they are ‘excited’ to play in the ‘hostile’ atmosphere of the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the Boxing Day Test against Australia

England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler says they are ‘excited’ to play in the ‘hostile’ atmosphere of the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the Boxing Day Test against Australia

Jos Buttler says England will relish the “hostile” atmosphere of a rocking MCG as they look to keep alive their slender hopes of regaining The Ashes.

England are 2-0 down with three Tests to play after suffering a nine-wicket defeat in the series opener at The Gabba in Brisbane and then a 275-run loss in the pink-ball second Test at Adelaide Oval.

The tourists – who have made four changes for the Boxing Day Test with Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad replaced by Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Jack Leach – must now record victories in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart to win back the urn.

Fast bowler Mark Wood returns to the England side in one of four changes for the Boxing Day Test

Fast bowler Mark Wood returns to the England side in one of four changes for the Boxing Day Test

Buttler, who gave England faint hope of a draw on the fifth and final day in Adelaide before his epic rearguard of 26 from 207 balls ended when he trod on his stumps, said: “We’re certainly not here to just take part and let 70,000 people enjoy another Australian victory.

“We have to fight back. We want to win the series and we want to win this Test match. We’ll take that ‘backs against the wall’ attitude because that’s what we need to have.

Buttler's epic rearguard came in vain on the final day in Adelaide as England lost the second Test by 275 runs

Buttler’s epic rearguard came in vain on the final day in Adelaide as England lost the second Test by 275 runs

“I’m sure it will be a hostile environment here but that’s to be embraced and enjoyed – everyone is excited to be here. We know we need to bring our best cricket.

“We haven’t done that so far and that’s disappointing. With the situation we’re in, we need to get there fast. This is why you play the game, because you want to be part of big occasions.

“It isn’t always going to be easy, but you need to turn up in tough situations and play well when it’s hard.”

England captain Joe Root said his bowlers were too short and not “brave enough” with the ball when assessing his side’s heavy defeat in Adelaide straight after the game.

Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting said he “nearly fell off his seat” after hearing Root’s criticism of his seamers’ lengths and said the England captain should have been firmer with his attack if he wanted them to pitch the ball up fuller.

Sky Sports pundit Nasser Hussain has backed Joe Root after Ricky Ponting criticised the England captain's leadership qualities

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Sky Sports pundit Nasser Hussain has backed Joe Root after Ricky Ponting criticised the England captain’s leadership qualities

Sky Sports pundit Nasser Hussain has backed Joe Root after Ricky Ponting criticised the England captain’s leadership qualities

Sky Sports Cricket pundit and former England captain Nasser Hussain said: “I think Ponting’s point is a very valid one.

“It’s your job [as captain] to make sure your bowlers bowl fuller or take them off and get someone else on.

“The one thing I will say to back up Root is that one of the real ticks for him is that he has been the captain that has got James Anderson and Stuart Broad to bowl fuller in Test cricket – (Sir Andrew) Strauss couldn’t do it, (Sir Alastair) Cook couldn’t do it.

“The results have been there for everyone to see. Broad, in particular, has got wickets by bowling fuller. In Adelaide they didn’t do it but in the long term has Root got England’s seamers bowling a bit fuller? He sure has.”

Root says England must deliver in the Melbourne and expects his side to put in an improved performance

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Root says England must deliver in the Melbourne and expects his side to put in an improved performance

Root says England must deliver in the Melbourne and expects his side to put in an improved performance

Root has been the leading light for England’s Test team with the bat in 2021, with his tally of 1,630 runs – a number no one in world cricket can top this year – a whopping 1,100 more than the next Englishman on the list in Burns, who has struck 530 runs.

Root needs 159 runs in Melbourne to trump former Pakistan batter Mohammad Yousuf’s record of 1,788 runs in a calendar year, which he set back in 2006.

England will be hoping to avoid another record, though, as if they lose at the MCG they will match Bangladesh’s tally of nine Test defeats in a calendar year, which the Tigers suffered in 2003.

Root said: “It’s been very enjoyable personally, in terms of batting, spending time out there making some big scores, but nothing compares to winning.

“If I perform well in the last three Tests here, it gives us a good chance of getting the scores on the board to win games.”

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