England down but not out for Ashes

ADELAIDE • Captain Joe Root says England are "still massively" in the Ashes series after a second heavy Test defeat by Australia yesterday left his side facing a last stand in the third Test.

The Australians clinched a 120-run win in the Adelaide Test after a crushing 10-wicket triumph in the Brisbane opener, putting England's hopes of retaining the Ashes on the line in Perth next week.

Compounding England's task is the fact that the tourists have not beaten Australia at Perth's Waca Ground since 1978.

But Root put on a bold face yesterday and said there was belief in the England camp that they can turn things around in the five-Test series and not head in the same direction as the 0-5 whitewash on the last Tour to Australia in 2013-14.

"The way we batted in that second innings proved to everyone we are still massively in this series, simple as that," he said. "We've shown throughout the two Tests in periods (that) we can outperform Australia, but just not over five days.

"If we can perform to our ability for longer periods of time, we'll win games."

He was disappointed in himself for not leading the way on the final day after getting dismissed on his overnight score of 67 in the day's third over by Josh Hazlewood.

"In big series, senior players have to step up and lead from the front and I tried to do that last night, but unfortunately this morning, I couldn't carry that on," he conceded.

After Australia claimed that key wicket, left-armer Mitchell Starc ripped through the tail to finish with five-for-88 and bowled Jonny Bairstow to seal victory 15 minutes from the end of the first session.

Despite the comfortable win, home captain Steve Smith admitted he endured some nervy moments. He revealed he took a sleeping pill to help him through a "tough 24 hours", with questions over his decision not to enforce the follow-on while holding a 215-run first-innings lead which allowed England a chance of chasing down a record 354-run victory target.

"You have to make difficult decisions and sometimes, you're going to make the wrong decision," he said. "It's all part of the learning experience."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2017, with the headline 'England down but not out for Ashes'. Print Edition | Subscribe