Joe Root must stay as England captain despite Ashes failure, says Matthew Hoggard

12 Sep

Former England cricketer Matthew Hoggard has leapt to Joe Root’s defence, saying his position as Test captain should not be called into question.

It’s been an unsuccessful Ashes series for England as they find themselves 2-1 down with just one match left and with no chance of retaining the famous urn.

Root and England have been second best in this summer’s Ashes
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This will be the second series Root has lost to Australia since be became captain in February 2017 – the other a 4-0 defeat Down Under in December 2017/January 2018.

Root and England’s failures have led to the likes of Geoffrey Boycott claiming the Yorkshireman “lacks any feel for captaincy“, while ex-England spinner Graeme Swann said he should never have have been made captain in the first place.

Steve Harmison told talkSPORT that Root is the only man for the job and Hoggard, who helped England beat Australia in the 2005 Ashes with Harmison, echoed his former teammate’s views.

When asked about whether the criticism surrounding Root’s status as England Test captain is fair, Hoggard, speaking at SportNation.bet’s Ashes review event, said to talkSPORT.com: “B*******”

“What tactics are there that Joe Root’s done that we’ve not agreed with? It’s not as if there’s been stupid field placements or everyone is complaining about the selection. What’s he done wrong?

Howzat Cricket Show: Sunday, July 19
‘Hoggy’ has come out and backed fellow Yorkshireman Root
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“Yes it’s 2-1 in an Ashes series that we needed to win but Root hasn’t stood out as a player that’s done much wrong.

“At the moment, the biggest enigma has been about how to get Steve Smith out.”

Root has had a busy summer as he was part of England’s ODI side that won the Cricket World Cup earlier this summer. He also plays for England at T20 level.

His workload has arguably had an effect on his form with the bat with Root out for three ducks in six innings before the fifth Test.

It’s led to suggestions that Root should consider quitting playing in T20 matches in a bid to improve his Test form.

When when asked whether Root should abandon either T20 or ODI cricket, Hoggard added: “The only person who can answer that is Joe Root.

“I hate people making decisions on what’s best for another player. Only Joe Root himself knows.

“Yes, you’re allowed to have a bad series and not be in good nick but if Root scores 200 at the Oval [in the fifth Test], what are the critics going to say then?

“Batting at three is difficult for him when he scores his runs at four and to come in at three very quickly like he’s had to against Australia is a hard place to be. Ask Michael Atherton who used to get done by Glenn McGrath all the time.

“It’s not like he’s been playing s*** shots, he’s been got at. He’s not getting himself out. Some of the balls he’s been getting would get anyone out.

“I’m not concerned about him as a captain or his form.”

 

Root is hardly the only England player to have struggled for form throughout the series and it’s cost Jason Roy a place in the team going into the final Test.

Roy’s form has been particularly frustrating with his highest score just at 31 leading to claims his game is not suited in a Test format.

And Hoggard has suggested Roy should focus on scoring runs for Surrey before he tries to fight his way back into the England set-up.

Hoggard added: “He [Roy] hasn’t set the world alight in the Test format, has he?

Roy’s Ashes series never got going
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“Yes, it’s very hard opening the batting against Australia with their excellent bowlers especially in a Test arena.

“If he doesn’t start doing it for Surrey then it’s going to be difficult [to get back in the England team].

“He has looked like a rabbit in headlights, a bit out of his depth and if he wants to open the batting for England he’s going to have to go back to Surrey and score some runs.”


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Ashes 2019: England batsman Jason Roy DROPPED for fifth and final Test against Australia

11 Sep

England batsman Jason Roy has been dropped for the fifth Ashes Test against Australia at the Oval.

The limited-overs star has struggled upon his introduction to the longer format, averaging just 18.7 runs in his opening five Tests.

Jason Roy’s Test career has not gone to plan so far
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A move from the top of the order to no.4 at Old Trafford did not result in more runs, and despite Australia already retaining the urn, the England selectors have run out of patience.

Craig Overton, who batted valiantly to try and save the fourth Test, has also lost his place, with all-rounders Sam Curran and Chris Woakes replacing the duo.

Neither Woakes nor Curran represent a direct replacement for Roy, and Ben Stokes will fill the void as part of a re-balance.

The England hero is currently nursing a shoulder injury which will see him unable to bowl, so will therefore move up the order as a specialist batsman.

Joe Root’s men are playing for pride after already failing in their bid to retain the Ashes.

The Aussies take a 2-1 lead into the final test in London, and England will be keen to draw the series, even if it means the urn still goes back to Australia.

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh replaces Travis Head for the visitors.

Mitchell Marsh will make his first appearance of the series
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England team to face Australia

Rory Burns, Joe Denly, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad.

Kevin Pietersen brands England cult figure Jack Leach a ‘laughing stock’ after Australia retain the Ashes

10 Sep

Kevin Pietersen has laid into England spinner Jack Leach for his poor performances during the 2019 Ashes series.

Leach became a cult hero to fans for his one not out at Headingley to help tie the series with Australia.

Jack Leach frustrated the Australian side with his constant glasses cleaning
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Videos emerged of the Somerset player re-enacting the run for his team-mates after the game and was even offered glasses for life by Specsavers.

But Pietersen did not see the funny side of things and the former England batsman did not hold back in his criticism as Australia retained the Ashes by winning at Old Trafford.

“It’s doing my head in that a bloke who’s supposed to win games for England is becoming a laughing stock,” he said, writing for Betway.

“You’ve got people in the stands taking the mickey out of him, wearing masks and fake glasses. Commentators are talking about his Specsavers deal.

“England are losing an Ashes series and he’s only taken eight wickets at 30 in three Test matches.

“It doesn’t look like he’s troubled anyone.”

Pietersen also commented on Leach re-enacting that famous one run following the incredible win Headingley.

“Now I’m not saying that you don’t do these things,” he continued.

“It can be good for team spirit to have a bit of fun. But, from my side, I want to win. I don’t want to see the crowd talking about how funny he is.

“I want to see him winning matches for England with his bowling.”

England name unchanged squad for fifth Ashes Test at The Oval as they look to level series with Australia

9 Sep

England have named an unchanged squad for the final Ashes Test against Australia at The Oval this week.

Australia retained the Ashes after a 185-run victory at Old Trafford saw them go 2-1 up in the series with one match left to play.

Joe Root’s captaincy has come into question
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The selectors have resisted attempts to draft in new players as they look to tie the series and prevent the tourists from recording a first outright win in England since 2001.

They have decided to retain the same XI as well as Sam Curran and Chris Woakes, who missed out in Manchester.

While further changes to an already depleted bowling line-up were always unlikely, there had been some expectation of alterations to the top seven, where Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler have all endured various struggles.

Australia retained the Ashes with their victory at Old Trafford
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Dominic Sibley of Warwickshire and Kent’s Zak Crawley have both impressed the selectors at the top of the order but will not get a chance to make their debut in the final game of the international season.

There had also been calls to recall Surrey duo Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes to play on their home ground.

Pope has been in good form and hit an unbeaten double hundred in the County Championship while Bairstow’s form with the bat has seen Foakes discussed as a replacement.

Any combination of those four players may yet be seen on the winter tour to New Zealand, but serious surgery to the squad has been delayed.

England squad for fifth Ashes Test

  • Joe Root
  • Jofra Archer
  • Jonny Bairstow
  • Stuart Broad
  • Rory Burns
  • Jos Buttler
  • Sam Curran
  • Joe Denly
  • Jack Leach
  • Craig Overton
  • Jason Roy
  • Ben Stokes
  • Chris Woakes

Question marks remain over the fitness of Ben Stokes, who injured his right shoulder over the weekend and did not bowl in Australia’s second innings.

England are due to assess him over the next 48 hours but his batting, which brought a century at Lord’s and a contender for the best ever Test innings at Headingley, would surely guarantee his role as a specialist in the top five.

What it would call for is a change elsewhere, with Woakes or Curran drafted in as an all-rounder with a batsman forced to make way.

Roy would be an obvious candidate given his travails, but it may also be possible to switch the gloves around and retain Buttler at Bairstow’s expense.

Steve Harmison backs Joe Root to remain England captain and says Ben Stokes should ‘never ever’ get the job

9 Sep

Steve Harmison has backed Joe Root to remain in his role as England captain and rubbished suggestions Ben Stokes should replace him.

England were beaten in the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford on Sunday as Australia retained the Ashes with one game left to play.

Harmison does not believe Ben Stokes is the right man to lead England
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Current skipper Root has come in for some criticism and even faced calls to relinquish the role.

Geoffrey Boycott wrote in The Telegraph that it was time for him to consider stepping down.

The England legend claims Root ‘lacks any feel for captaincy’ and believes he does not possess the ‘gift’ of being a natural leader.

Harmison, though, disagrees with that view, telling talkSPORT Root is the only man for the job while explaining why it would be a major mistake to make Stokes skipper.

Joe Root’s captaincy has come into question
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He told talkSPORT: “He (Joe Root) is the only man to lead England forward. You look through the group and I look round and there is no option.

“I would never ever give the captaincy to Stokes. I’ve seen what happened to Andrew Flintoff when they gave it to him.

“That’s not being negative to Andrew, it’s just that he was the man to take everything on.

“Whatever anybody does, do not give the captaincy to Ben Stokes because of what he’s got on his plate every time he goes out to bowl and bat.

“He is our talisman and lead figure. History tells you, Botham didn’t last too long, Flintoff had too much on his plate with a poor side.

“The last thing the England cricket team need is Stokes as captain.

“The only one you could go for from a senior point of view, who has performed well in The Ashes, is Broad.

“He’s been England captain before but I don’t want him to be captain and I don’t think he needs the captaincy at this time.

“It has to be Joe.”

Harmison was not the only person calling for Root to stay on as captain with Surrey’s Gareth Batty believing he is the best man for the job.

Batty told talkSPORT: “He stays on absolutely. It’s just obvious that people make more criticisms when it isn’t going so well as when it is going well.

“Does he get the accolades he should when England are going well? It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other.”

Australia lead the five match series 2-1 with one game left to play at The Oval.

England have named an unchanged squad for that match starting on Thursday.

Australia retain the Ashes as they beat England in dramatic final day of fourth Test at Old Trafford

8 Sep

Australia retained the Ashes as England failed to bat out the final day of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

It was always going to be a tough job for England to keep out the Australian bowlers with just eight wickets remaining.

The tailenders managed to take it to the final hour of the day but Tim Paine’s side took the vital final wicket to take a 2-1 series lead.

Josh Hazlewood celebrates taking the final England wicket
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Resuming on 18 for two and facing the prospect of batting out a full 98-over day to prevent Australia retaining with a 2-1 series lead, the home side lost four wickets in the first two sessions.

Joe Denly made 53 in 123 deliveries as he showed the way, with Buttler on 30 from 96 by the time he and Craig Overton walked off to a huge roar of approval from a sell-out 23,500 crowd.

Pat Cummins’ removal of Rory Burns and Joe Root on Saturday night had been a hammer blow for England, denying the hosts their two most durable performers from the first innings.

In their stead it fell to Jason Roy and Denly, two men with points to prove. There were a couple of lbw shouts against Denly in the opening overs, both sliding down leg side, while Roy was able to coax the first big cheer when he tucked the ball through midwicket for four.

Joe Denly scored a half-century on the final day of the fourth Ashes Test
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Both men were playing cautiously until Denly’s patience wavered, chasing a wide delivery from Mitchell Starc and seeing a wild outside edge sail over the cordon. To even consider playing at such a ball was an error but he survived with nothing worse than a lesson learned and four runs to his name.

It took Paine just eight overs to send for Nathan Lyon’s spin and Denly greeted him by sweeping hard to the boundary. There were a couple of nervy moments, Roy almost offering a bat-pad chance and Denly’s slog-sweep landing just in front of the fielder, but otherwise all was well for the hosts.

By the time Roy leant on a nicely-timed cover drive off Starc an hour had passed and England were had moved along to 56.

Nathan Lyon celebrates taking a wicket at Old Trafford
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Australia were searching for a breakthrough and, after 18 overs and 80 minutes, Cummins provided it. It was another fine delivery from the world number one, seaming in between bat and pad and hitting the target.

Roy’s work was done on 31 and his departure brought Ben Stokes to the crease, to the expected deafening welcome. The Headingley hero lasted just 17 deliveries, though, caught in two minds by one that moved back in and flicked the inside edge of an attempted leave.

Umpire Marais Erasmus was not sure, but Australia knew they had their man and Stokes opted to walk before DRS was required. Lunch came at 87 for four, with the ominous prospect of an extended afternoon session hovering into view.

Joe Denly was the pick of the England batters
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Denly was on 48 at the break and, though runs were no more than an afterthought in the wider scheme, a half-century was an important personal milestone.

A punch down the ground off Cummins got him there, for the third time in seven Tests, but his race was almost run. Lyon had bowled 47 wicketless overs in the match when he got one to turn and bounce, forcing Denly back and nudging the glove on its way to short-leg.

After holding the fort for exactly 100 balls on the day, he was out. It left England with one more partnership before the tail was exposed.

Bairstow and Jos Buttler put on 45 but ate up little more than an hour’s play, not quite enough to introduce any jitters.

Paine felt brave enough to fritter three overs on the part-time spin of Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head but made sure to give the first ball after the drinks break to Starc. It was fast, angling in from round the wicket and destined for leg stump – Bairstow called for DRS but to no avail.

Number eight Overton proved a doughty foil for Buttler, both men surviving another challenging burst from Cummins as a replacement ball began swinging sharply.

Australia thought they had removed Overton with the first ball after tea as Labuschagne grasped a catch fielding close to the bat but the ball had hit the body.

The breakthrough came when Buttler (34) misjudged the line off Hazlewood and was bowled leaving the ball. His removal for 34 left England 172 for seven and needing a rearguard from the tail.

Jofra Archer did not last long, scoring only one before being trapped lbw by Lyon with a ball that kept low.

England were 173 for eight with Australia needing just two more wickets for victory.

Overton survived a loud appeal for lbw off Hazlewood after another lengthy review. He then formed a stubborn ninth-wicket partnership with Jack Leach, taking the score to 195 for eight off 85 overs, with 20 remaining in the day.

Jack Leach frustrated the Australian side
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Leach’s resistance came to an end after Paine turned to Labuschagne’s leg-spin.

Leach offered a simple catch to Matthew Wade close in, ending his innings of 12 after 51 balls. Australia were closing in on victory with England 196 for nine.

The game ended when Hazlewood trapped Overton lbw, ending his stubborn innings of 105 balls for 21. The England man called for a review but the decision stood.

Australia celebrated retaining the Ashes with victory by 185 runs.

Ashes 2019: England’s hopes hanging by a thread as Pat Cummins strikes twice

7 Sep

England were on the verge of the surrendering the Ashes after Pat Cummins struck a cruel double blow on the penultimate evening of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

Steve Smith’s latest remarkable innings of 82 allowed Australia to declare for the second time in the match, boasting a lead of 382, 20 more than a Ben Stokes-inspired England managed in their record win at Headingley.

Pat Cummins celebrates bowling Joe Root
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The less fantastical goal was to bat out the remainder of the match and set up a winner-takes-all battle at the Oval next week, but Cummins rendered that an improbable long shot when he dismissed Rory Burns and captain Joe Root in the first over of the reply.

The pair have been responsible for England’s two biggest partnerships of the series, including 141 in the first innings here, but were skittled for ducks by successive Cummins deliveries.

Burns has been easily the most durable opener in the series but lasted only three balls, sending a leading edge looping to short cover. Root strode to the crease with his team’s hopes on his shoulders but was on his way back within a few short seconds, Cummins conjuring something fit for the occasion: demanding attention on a good full length then nipping away to clatter off stump.

Cummins and his team-mates celebrated like they had retained the Ashes and, although Joe Denly and Jason Roy survived to reach 18 for two, they will surely do just that on Sunday.

Steven Smith bats for Australia
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If they do it will be overwhelmingly down to Smith, whose freewheeling efforts steered Australia to 186 for six and took his total output in just four innings to 671 over the course of a spirit-sapping 998 balls.

The day began with England 200 for five in their first innings, with Stokes carrying the burden of expectation following his exploits in Leeds.

He and Jonny Bairstow successfully negotiated six overs of the new ball but, as soon as Mitchell Starc unwrapped the fresh Dukes, the tone changed.

The left-armer disappointed on day three but now there was swing in the air and he used it to spear a yorker through the inviting gap offered by Bairstow.

Ben Stokes watched on
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Stokes was living dangerously himself, surviving a caught-and-bowled chance and seeing a top-edged hook sail over the wicketkeeper’s head. He managed 26 before the end came, pushing away from his body at Starc and feeding Smith at slip.

His latest attempt at digging England out a sizeable hole had faltered, but Jos Buttler was on hand to take the follow-on off the table with his best score of the series, 41.

He got off the mark with an uppish drive that briefly tempted cover, and responded to Jofra Archer’s soft dismissal by setting off a seven-ball sequence that saw him hit three more boundaries.Stands of 27 with Stuart Broad and 18 with Jack Leach allowed him to beat the follow-on target of 298 by three runs, doing so with a flourish through cover, before he lost his middle stump to that man Cummins.

England rallied in spirited fashion after the switch, Broad and Archer sharing four wickets to leave the tourists briefly vulnerable on 44 for four. Broad began by continuing his bullying of David Warner, pinned lbw in the first over as the seamer dismissed him for the sixth time in eight innings. It was his second duck of the match and his third in a row.

Marcus Harris departed in similar fashion, Broad on a roll from round the wicket, and Archer made it three leg before decisions in a row when he pinned Marnus Labuschagne in front for 11.

The best was yet to come, Archer uprooting Travis Head’s middle stump before the interval left both sides to gather their thoughts.

But Smith was still there and resumed on 19 after tea with an instant gear shift, taking 10 runs off Leach’s first over of the evening with a sequence of aggressive strokes.

He was soon hacking over the infield, sweeping into the gaps and paddling square on both sides. The pressure dissolved as his counter-attack took hold, with Root’s attempts to set a field increasingly in vain.

A tough finish for England
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Stokes almost conjured a brilliant solution, sprinting from slip in anticipation of a reverse sweep but parrying what would have been an unbelievable catch. As Smith jogged through for one, he took the lead to 300, working another single next up for his 50.

Yet another century seemed to be inevitable but finally his veneer cracked, a big swing against Leach sending a steepling chance to long-off to the safest hands imaginable: Stokes.

The declaration came later than some expected, leaving half-an-hour, but it was enough to land two major blows on the English psyche. Cummins was simply too good in fading light, leaving England the prospect of 98 overs on a fifth day pitch with eight wickets in hand.

One, of course, is Stokes, but this may even be too much for cricket’s man of the summer.

Ashes 2019: Josh Hazlewood takes three late wickets to leave England in danger of following-on as Joe Root has box broken

6 Sep

England face a fight to keep their Ashes dreams alive after some great bowling from Josh Hazlewood at the end of day three saw him take the wickets of Rory Burns and Joe Root.

Australia set an imposing mark of 497-8 yesterday and England responded by closing on 200-5, meaning they still need 98 more runs to avoid a follow-on at Old Trafford.

Root and Burns offered good resistance but their dismissals has swung the pendulum back Australia’s way
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Their hopes of saving the game and the urn were aided by conditions in Manchester, with morning rain and bad light in the evening allowing just 64 overs possible out a planned 98, while for long periods Burns (81) and Root (71) appeared in control of matters.

In the end the pair shared a defiant stand of 141 in nearly 53 overs – their second-century partnership and England’s biggest of the series – only for Hazlewood to intervene with a late, decisive spell.

Having already seen off nightwatchman Craig Overton in his first over of the day the seamer returned in the final hour to wreck England’s good work.

First he had Burns caught in the slips, his only authentic chance in 185 balls at the crease, then roared in to trap Root lbw in his very next over.

Hazlewood took all four of Australia’s wickets on day three including a beautiful bowling out of Jason Roy
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He had one more trick up his sleeve before the umpires led the sides off, nipping one in off the pitch to tear out Jason Roy’s middle stump and complete a drastic turnaround.

For England the main source of solace is Ben Stokes’ presence at the crease but the hero of Headingley will need to turn in yet another brilliant performance to get his team out of jail here.

Heavy showers wiped out the morning, with play not beginning until 1.30pm. After several hours of pondering and planning how he might frustrate the bowlers, Overton proceeded to nick the ninth ball of the day.

It was Hazlewood’s first intervention on his way to figures of 4-48, a performance that might yet have settled the direction of the match.

Steve Smith, fresh from his latest epic innings of 211, was on hand to hang on at second slip for his 100th Test catch.

And so began a profitable, and highly accomplished, stand between two men who would go on to see off 353 deliveries between them. It was not always comfortable, both men wearing their share of bruises and Root even banking a broken box after one unpleasant blow from Mitchell Starc, but it was exactly what their country needed.

Hazlewood tested Root early on, beating the bat and seaming one perilously close to the off stump when he offered no shot, while Burns quickly got used to a steady diet of bouncers as Australia sought to challenge his perceived weakness.

But the bowling got as they chased another breakthrough, both batsmen offered cheap runs on the leg side as the boundary count began to mount.

By the time they had spent 20 overs together the partnership was worth 50 and Starc’s second spell of the day hastened things along nicely, shipping 22 runs from two overs as Burns and Root began to enjoy themselves.

Root was unable to block this ball from Starc
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The England captain took a moment to assess the damage
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Good thing Root was wearing a box in the first place…
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By the end of an elongated afternoon session they had added exactly 100.

There was a growing sense of enjoyment in the stands, with Nathan Lyon picked out as the butt of a persistent joke as fans cheered his every take at the bowler’s end. He has surely not forgotten his botched run-out in Leeds, but neither have the English public.

It took a wonderful spell from Pat Cummins to recalibrate things, Root nicking clean between wicketkeeper and first slip on 54 – neither of whom moved a muscle – the first genuine chance of the stand.

Next up he pounded Root on the knee-roll – spawning a misguided review from Paine, his 10th such failure of the series but also some serious discomfort for the batsman – and rapped both batsmen on the glove.

He had ramped up the pressure and Hazlewood cashed in. Just before 6pm he persuaded Burns to nick off for the first time in a measured innings that confirmed his suitability for the highest stage, with Smith making sure once again.

The burden now lay weighed heavily on Root but he was beaten by a rapid delivery that jagged into his pad and left him plumb lbw in Hazlewood’s next over.

The pair had batted with caution and class to suck the momentum away from Australia but in a few minutes the foundations had crumbled.

Roy, moved down to number four to unlock his run-scoring potential, hit three boundaries as he zipped along to 22 but was found wanting. Having just crashed Hazlewood to the ropes he was ruthlessly unpicked, bent double by a seaming delivery that cleaned him up.

That left Stokes and Jonny Bairstow in the middle, with a monstrous task awaiting

Ashes 2019: England legend Alastair Cook offers explanation for top order struggles against Australia

6 Sep

Alastair Cook suggests England’s top order woes in the Test arena are the result of a modern shift towards shorter forms of cricket.

England are still yet to find a successful opening batsman since Cook, the country’s highest ever Test run scorer, retired last summer.

At Old Trafford on Thursday, Joe Denly became the latest man to falter, while Jason Roy’s Ashes woes at the top of the order have been well documented.

Jason Roy has struggled desperately upon his introduction to the Test arena
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This is the first summer Roy has featured in the Test side, following years of success for England in T20s and ODIs, most recently in the victorious World Cup campaign.

But Test cricket requires an entirely different set of skills, and Cook suggests it can be difficult to adapt after playing so much limited-overs cricket.

“The top order players are finding it hard to make the transition from county cricket to international cricket,” he told talkSPORT.

“Yes, the standard goes up a bit. It’s just what these young players have to learn. When I first started, all I had to learn was the four-day game, the longer format.

“These guys now, if they want to be successful, you’re not going to get many counties taking on a four-day specialist.

“You have to get value for your money. You have to be a T20 and a one-day player.

Cook has left a gaping hole at the top of England’s batting order
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“Even there, you’re splitting your time, whereas I concentrated 100% on four-day cricket.

“What we’re seeing is the effect of that in guys’ techniques, because they have to learn different skills, and it’s tough for them.”

England face a battle to keep the Ashes alive after Steve Smith’s double hundred put Australia firmly in control of the fourth Test.

The tourists recorded a mammoth 497 runs over the opening two days, and claimed the wicket of Denly before stumps on Thursday.

Joe Root will hope the weather comes to his aid, with rain delaying the start of day three.

Ashes 2019: England legend Alastair Cook offers explanation for top order struggles against Australia

6 Sep

Alastair Cook suggests England’s top order woes in the Test arena are the result of a modern shift towards shorter forms of cricket.

England are still yet to find a successful opening batsman since Cook, the country’s highest ever Test run scorer, retired last summer.

At Old Trafford on Thursday, Joe Denly became the latest man to falter, while Jason Roy’s Ashes woes at the top of the order have been well documented.

Jason Roy has struggled desperately upon his introduction to the Test arena
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This is the first summer Roy has featured in the Test side, following years of success for England in T20s and ODIs, most recently in the victorious World Cup campaign.

But Test cricket requires an entirely different set of skills, and Cook suggests it can be difficult to adapt after playing so much limited-overs cricket.

“The top order players are finding it hard to make the transition from county cricket to international cricket,” he told talkSPORT.

“Yes, the standard goes up a bit. It’s just what these young players have to learn. When I first started, all I had to learn was the four-day game, the longer format.

“These guys now, if they want to be successful, you’re not going to get many counties taking on a four-day specialist.

“You have to get value for your money. You have to be a T20 and a one-day player.

Cook has left a gaping hole at the top of England’s batting order
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“Even there, you’re splitting your time, whereas I concentrated 100% on four-day cricket.

“What we’re seeing is the effect of that in guys’ techniques, because they have to learn different skills, and it’s tough for them.”

England face a battle to keep the Ashes alive after Steve Smith’s double hundred put Australia firmly in control of the fourth Test.

The tourists recorded a mammoth 497 runs over the opening two days, and claimed the wicket of Denly before stumps on Thursday.

Joe Root will hope the weather comes to his aid, with rain delaying the start of day three.