Having been outclassed in the first two Tests of the Ashes series, England skipper Joe Root is expecting his team to respond back in the crucial third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, starting on Sunday (December 26). The visitors lost the first Test by nine wickets and then went down by 275 runs in Adelaide. England batters, in particular, have failed to do the job as they haven’t been able to cross the 300-run mark even once in this series.
"It did come easy to be angry at the end of the last game because of the situation we're in and the manner in which we lost. I'll always try to look at things with a level, pragmatic approach but I don't think you could after the way we've played those last two games. I expect a response from everyone this week," Root told reporters in Melbourne.
"There was a lot of frustration. Purely because of the basic mistakes that we've been making. And we've done it twice in a row. We can't afford to be losing eight wickets for 70 or 80 runs. It is not good enough. It is not the level that an England Test team should be playing at. The guys know that and they're very aware of that.
"Their work ethic is very good and you'll have seen how guys practice and how long they bat for in the nets, but sometimes I think we can be smarter about what we are practising and how we are practising.
"And understanding that batting, in my opinion, it's about making good decisions for long periods of time. It's not about hitting a million balls and feeling a million dollars. Sometimes it's just about finding a way of staying there until it becomes a little bit easier. And I think we need to harness that mentality a little bit more."
Root started the series with a duck but has managed scores of 24, 62 and 89 in his last three innings. The right-handed batter has had a terrific year with the bat, smashing 1630 runs at an average of 62.69 in 16 Tests, but has hardly found any support from other batsmen. Root has eight fifties in 11 Tests in Australia but is yet to score a century.
"I feel in a really good place with my batting. I'm playing nicely still. I'm confident I can bang out a hundred in these next three games. I know that's a brave thing to say but that conversion rate hasn't been an issue at all this year. I feel like I have an understanding of how I want to score my runs. I just need to have the bit between my teeth - over my dead body.
"It's about managing the conditions for me. If you look at three of the four dismissals I have had, they've been in that channel. It doesn't swing and it doesn't seam as much in these conditions, so you feel like you can hit the ball. You feel in control and that can lure you in. And that extra bit of bounce can bring the nick."
Root wants his bowlers to make sure Australia don’t get big runs and believes his team can still make a comeback in this series. “If we can dismiss them for not many runs, it will cause all sorts of panic. We saw it this time last year against India. It has a massive effect on the rest of the batting group. And we've got to look to exploit that as best we can.
"I don't think Australia are that much better than us in these conditions. The scoreline would suggest they're absolutely a far better team than us but I don't think they are. If we perform anywhere like we can do, we'll put them in an uncomfortable position. We'll push back and we'll find ourselves in a very different situation leaving this ground.
"Whenever you go 2-0 down in a five-match series it is always tough. But we have to show resilience and not feel sorry for ourselves. We have to prove a point and show we are a far better team than what we have provided at the start."