Australia v England – 2nd Test: Day 5
Joe Root‘s captaincy has been criticized in the wake of his side’s 275-run loss to Australia at the Adelaide Oval.
The Evening Standard is reporting that England are considering up to four changes for the third Test in Melbourne after the squad has proven to be largely ineffective in the first two Tests.
But Root has been slammed for his role as captain in the team’s series demise, while his numbers as a batter continue to impress onlookers.
Root has scored 1630 runs in 2021, at an average of 62.69—a remarkable record up there with one of the best years for a batter in Test history. Most recently, he put on a 138-run stand with Dawid Malan in Adelaide following their mammoth partnership in Brisbane. These were the only real signs of any batting promise so far for England this series.
But Root’s leadership has been lambasted as England suffered a 2-0 deficit against Australia. Former Australian captain Ian Chappell said that Root is an excellent batter, but he lacks inspiration and willpower to urge his team to glory. In an ESPNcricinfo column, he said:
“Root is not an inspirational captain and this is indicated by the number of times his team work their way into a decent position but can’t finish the job. Root is an excellent batter but a poor captain. It would not be unfair to describe him as an ordinary and unlucky captain.”
“Rarely do you find a long-term captain who is lacking in imagination but is also lucky. A fortunate captain is usually lucky because the players believe he is some kind of miracle-worker and things tend to work out because of the team’s belief.”
During the post-match press conference Root laid bare where he thought England had lost the match. He chided his bowlers for bowling too short of a good length, outlining that they were repeating the same mistakes during the 2017/18 Ashes when they were thrashed 4-0.
He was ‘brutally honest’ and admitted that once those plans changed in the second innings, England looked threatening with the ball early on Day 4.
That assessment of the second Test didn’t sit well with former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who believed it was Root’s job to rectify those bowling strategies. Speaking to cricket.com.au, he said:
“I nearly fell off my seat when I heard that. Whose job is it then to make them change? Why are you captain then? If you can’t influence your bowlers on what length to bowl, what are you doing on the field? Joe Root can come back and say whatever he likes but if you’re captain, you’ve got to be able to sense when your bowlers aren’t bowling where you want them to. And if they’re not going to listen, you take them off, simple as that. That’s what captaincy is all about.”
Root and England were also left to rue the decision not to pick a specialist spinner at the Adelaide Oval, dropping Jack Leach after the first Test.
With roasting temperatures in the high 30s earlier on in the match, the Adelaide Oval wicket flattened and dried out on Day 4. Australia’s Nathan Lyon later proving the abundance of turn and bounce on offer.
Lyon made the ball turn and bounce consistently, bowling with a beautiful arc and drift, beating the bat ball after ball. He built pressure from one end for wickets to be taken at the other and was unlucky not to take a wicket himself, but had Malan dropped by Smith early in his innings.
However, England were almost devoid of any spinning options when Joe Root had to leave the field due to an injury, leaving only part-timers to do the job. Root’s decision to play five seamers did not appear to be the most judicious.
Ollie Robinson resorted to bowling a few overs of off-spin and Dawid Malan rolled his arm over with some noticeably part-time leg-spin. Malan finished with 2/33 off his six overs, while Robinson picked up 2/54 from 15 overs (including overs bowled as a seam bowler).
Ian Chappell believes England will suffer a 5-0 whitewash defeat unless Root is replaced as captain and replaced by a player of more inspirational ilk.