/Be brave and eradicate mistakes – Root

Be brave and eradicate mistakes – Root

England captain Joe Root and Ben Stokes
England’s highest score in the series so far is 297, while Australia have passed 400 in the first innings of both Tests
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground Date: 26-30 December Time: 23:30 GMT (25-29 December)
Coverage: Test Match Special and live text commentary, plus clips, features and analysis on the BBC Sport website and app. Daily highlights show on BBC iPlayer from 17:00 GMT

England have to respond by being brave, showing trust and eradicating “quite basic” mistakes in the third Ashes Test in Melbourne, says captain Joe Root.

After Adelaide Root said he was “frustrated” that England keep making the same mistakes.

“I expect a response,” Root told BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday.

“I expect everyone to throw everything into this Test match.”

To win the Ashes England go into the famous Boxing Day Test at the MCG, which starts at 23:30 GMT on Saturday, needing to win the remaining three games in the series.

Root said the game is a “very special Test match and one that every English player wants to be involved in”, adding it is a “great opportunity to try and create some history and do something special”.

The Boxing Day Test in the 2017 Ashes was drawn, and it is a ground where England have seen some success with two wins in the five Tests prior to that – although the other three were lost.

In his post-match interview after the heavy defeat in Adelaide, Root was critical of his bowlers, saying “we needed to bowl fuller”.

But he also spoke about missed chances in the field – England dropped seven catches in the second Test and have dropped 12 in the series so far – and criticised the batters for not building enough partnerships.

Fast bowler Mark Wood, who did not feature in the second Test, said on Wednesday that England had had a “brutally honest conversation” and were given “a kick up the bum”, something batter Dawid Malan said was needed.

“We’ve addressed it as a group,” said Root. “We spoke and had a very honest discussion at the end of the game.

“It was quite clear where we need to make improvements.

“I’m not someone that’s going to stand there and make excuses [about the lack of preparation]. The fact is, the mistakes that we’ve made have been… I don’t think they’ve been intricate little things, they’ve been quite basic ones.

“In many ways, there’s nothing to lose. We have to go out there and win. And I’ve got a sense that everyone’s in the right frame of mind to do that.”

England resumed the final day of the second Test on 82-4 but managed to take the game into the final session, with Jos Buttler surviving 207 balls for his 26 runs, and Root said England need to show that sort of attitude and “harness it for five days”.

He added that his side are “more than capable of doing that, we just need to go and deliver it”.

The tourists are expected to make changes in Melbourne with Zak Crawley set to replace Rory Burns – who has 51 runs in four innings – and Jonny Bairstow coming in for Ollie Pope, who has managed 48 runs in four attempts.

Wood and left-arm spinner Jack Leach are likely to return, replacing Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes.

Root refused to be drawn on team selection but urged whoever is selected to do “basic things well” and have “clarity of mind”.

The 30-year-old, who is England’s most successful captain but is facing a third Ashes in charge without success, asked his batters to show an “over my dead body” attitude and encouraged his bowlers to “ask those difficult questions for longer periods of time”.

“We’ve been, on occasions, very good. But on occasions we’ve probably been a little bit pretty with our lengths,” added Root.

“We just have to do it for longer. We have to trust it, and be brave and throw everything into this game.”

‘England will bounce back hard’

Australia captain Cummins is set to return in Melbourne after being deemed a close Covid-19 contact on the morning of the third Test, but Josh Hazlewood will again be absent with a side strain.

Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc is set to overcome rib and back injuries to play a third successive Test, while coach Justin Langer has given his backing to Marcus Harris at the top of the order despite the left-hander only making 38 runs in four innings.

All-rounder Cameron Green says Australia are expecting a much-improved England this week.

“They had really good moments and we know how good they are,” said Green.

“They are obviously a world-class team, with world-class players.

“We played really well the last couple of matches, we’re sure they’ll bounce back really hard.”

At 22, and just six Tests into his Australia career, Green is still a novice and says the comparisons being drawn with England all-rounder Ben Stokes are “dangerous” because Stokes is “the best in the world”.

“I’m sure when I play more Tests I might get a bit more confidence to be able to do [what Stokes does] and get a bit more self-belief that you can win a match by yourself,” said Green.

Green is yet to fire with the bat in the series, making 35 in three innings, but his five wickets, including twice getting Root out, and good economy with the ball have helped Australia to a commanding series lead.

On his success against Root, Green said: “It’s a bit of fun at the moment, isn’t it? Maybe a few of the boys have mentioned it.

“It’s not really a match up, I’ve just got lucky a couple of times. He obviously hasn’t got a hundred [in Australia] but he’s batting beautifully out in the middle so we’ve got to be on our game again.”

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