2 Ashes tests, 2 losses: Not much is going right for England
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — After lopsided losses in the first two Ashes tests, England captain Joe Root says he’s frustrated by three components of his team’s performance.
Unfortunately for Root, they’re the three main ones in the game — batting, bowling and fielding.
“You have to be able to put the ball in the right areas for long enough,” Root said after England’s 275-run loss to Australia in Adelaide on Monday. “You have to be able to score big runs, and if there’s chances, you have to take them.”
The Adelaide loss followed a nine-wicket defeat in the opening match in Brisbane. There, England only scored 147 in its first innings and Australia notched 425, leaving the visitors 278 runs in arrears going into their second innings.
“The frustration within our dressing room is that we have missed out or we’re not quite executing those basic things well enough for the second game in a row,” Root said. “And we need to respond very quickly.”
The next match begins Sunday, the traditional Boxing Day test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, followed by matches in Sydney and Hobart in January. With Australia holding the Ashes, the visitors now need to win all three to regain the urn.
That won’t happen if their fielding doesn’t improve.
In the first two tests, England’s total of dropped catches was in double figures and they’ve taken two wickets from no-balls.
Root said one positive was England’s resistance on the final day, led by Jos Buttler.
Buttler got through 207 balls before backing into his stumps and was out for 26. Chris Woakes also had a good innings and scored 44.
Only one team has ever come from 2-0 down to win an Ashes series: Don Bradman’s Australians in 1936-37.
Root is undeterred, despite England not having won a match in Australia since 2010-11, when it won the series 3-1. In two series since before this one, it’s been 5-0 and 4-0 with a draw for the home side.
“We have to absolutely believe,” Root said. “And have that same attitude that we went out today with. Because if we do that, I’m convinced we have got we need to win test matches out here.”
Buttler’s role is one of several that selectors will discuss before the MCG test. He is expected to retain his spot in England’s team, but could lose the wicketkeeping role to Jonny Bairstow after Buttler dropped three catches in Adelaide.
Ollie Pope (5 and 4 in Adelaide) is also under pressure to keep his spot at No. 6, potentially creating room for Bairstow to come in.
Haseeb Hameed (6 and 0 in Adelaide) and Rory Burns are under threat at the top of the order, although Burns fought hard on the fourth night in Adelaide to put up 34 after scoring just 4 in England’s first innings.
To heat up the bowling, England could bring back rested paceman Mark Wood for Melbourne.
“He is always going to offer something with that extra bit of pace he has,” Root said of Wood. “Hopefully, he is raring to go for the rest of the series.”
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