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Thursday 7th
posted by Morning Star in Sport

Greater stamina needed to beat Aussies after second loss

JOE ROOT insisted yesterday that England are still “massively” in the Ashes series despite falling 2-0 behind with a 120-run defeat in the second Test.

England arrived on the final day at the Adelaide Oval with an outside chance of sustaining their revival in the inaugural pink-ball Ashes encounter.

But after conceding a 215-run first-innings deficit, even James Anderson’s maiden five-wicket haul in Australia and then a battling half-century from the England captain himself could not truly turn back the tide.

Root was unbeaten at stumps on the penultimate night, with 178 still needed and six wickets intact to pull off a national-record run chase of 354 to level the series.

Instead, he followed nightwatchman Chris Woakes back as Josh Hazlewood twice struck early and then Mitchell Starc (five for 88) was the enforcer who ensured England were bowled out for 233 well before tea.

Root and coach Trevor Bayliss are nonetheless in agreement that, even from 2-0 down with three to play, England can still retain the urn.

“It is obviously very disappointing now,” said the captain, who “strongly disagrees” with anyone currently predicting a second successive 5-0 whitewash defeat Down Under.

“I thought the way we responded both with ball and bat in the second innings was outstanding, especially the way we played last night in those conditions.”

England’s problem, he concedes, is that they must sustain their best cricket for longer to win Tests, though he does not equate this winter’s struggle so far with the 5-0 defeat four years ago.

“We have shown throughout the two games that for periods we can out-perform Australia, but just not for five days, and that is going to be our challenge.

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

Bayliss, who anticipates fielding an unchanged team for the third Test in Perth, is also still talking a good game.

“If we keep playing the way we are, I think there’s enough frailties in the Australian team … that we can exploit that.

Root’s opposite number Steve Smith endured some fair flak for his decision not to enforce the follow-on here, and admitted England did have him a little worried.

“It’s been a pretty tough 24 hours … they fought very hard and gave us a little fright overnight.”