Shell-shocked England captain Joe Root called on his players to show some pride in the badge after they suffered a humiliating innings and 14-run loss to Australia in Melbourne on Tuesday to lose the Ashes with two Tests to spare.
Root has now lost seven of eight Tests he has captained in Australia and also failed to wrest the urn back from Australia on home soil in 2019 when the series was drawn 2-2.
AUS v ENG, 3rd Test, Day 3 – AS IT HAPPENED
“I’m absolutely gutted,” Root told reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“We’re bitterly disappointed to find ourselves in this position. We need to put some pride back into the badge and we need to give people back home something to celebrate and look fondly back on from this tour. It’s bitterly disappointing to be 3-0 down but there are two Tests to go.”
England was routed for 68 in its second innings – its 13th lowest total in Tests – before lunch on day three at the MCG, having managed only 185 in the first. The match was all but lost in the final hour on day two, however, when the top order crumbled to be 31 for four at stumps.
It was a bitter pill for James Anderson and England’s bowlers, who had battled hard to limit Australia to 267 and give their batsmen a chance to set the home side a chase. In the end England proved unable to even reach the 82 runs required to make Australia bat again.
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Questions may be asked of Root’s captaincy after another Ashes failure but the 30-year-old Yorkshireman has proved a virtual lone hand with the bat. Scoring 50 and 28 in Melbourne, he finishes the calendar year with 1,708 runs, the third highest after Mohammad Yousuf (1,788) and Viv Richards (1,710).
He could only wish for half as much support from some of his team-mates, with Ben Stokes (11) the only other England player to reach double figures in that dismal second innings.
Root was reluctant to discuss the long-term future of his captaincy, saying he was focused only on the next two matches in Sydney and Hobart.
“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.
“But I think more than anything, we’ve got to keep looking to do everything we can to get the players in the best possible place to go and win Test matches. And that’s a big part of captaincy, you’ve got to rally the players – you’ve got to try and instil that belief in every single one of your team and your squad.
“And more than ever now.”