Ashes tour diary: Joe Root says captaincy not a ‘dictatorship’, Ben Stokes fires up for Melbourne

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·4-min read
Ashes tour diary: Joe Root says captaincy not a ‘dictatorship’, Ben Stokes fires up for Melbourne
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  • Joe Root
    Joe Root
    English cricketer (born 1990)
  • Ben Stokes
    Ben Stokes
    Cricketer (born 1991)
  • Pat Cummins
    Pat Cummins
    Australian cricketer

The big talking point of England’s week has been the brutal meeting held after the Adelaide Test, in which coach Chris Silverwood and captain Joe Root made their displeasure with England’s repeated errors plain.

James Anderson used his Telegraph column today to say that defeat was not just the bowlers’ fault, even if some “schoolboy errors” were being made.

Root used an interesting word when saying that his team were all on the same page today: “dictatorship”.

“What I said at the end of the game, it’s not about pointing fingers,” he said. “It’s not about singling players out or trying to put blame on one department – collectively we weren’t good enough.

“I was asked some direct questions after the game about our bowling and I answered them. If you’d asked me about the batting I’d have said something very similar.

“I like to give our senior bowlers responsibility, they’ve got over 300 Tests and over 1000 wickets between them. They know what they are doing, they are highly skilled bowlers, wonderfully talented players that time and time again have put in big performances for us.

“So it’s about working alongside them, it’s not a dictatorship. Every now and again, you don’t always agree on everything, and that’s fine. Ultimately it’s about coming to a point where you get the results you want.”

The bowlers held a long meeting without Root on the MCG outfield this afternoon, as they readied themselves for the Boxing Day Test.

Hoff off

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

It looks increasingly unlikely that Josh Hazlewood will be available for Australia. Like Pat Cummins, he has rejoined the squad at training in Melbourne, but he did not bowl.

Cummins named his team for the first two Tests a day early – even if he had to withdraw from the second – so expect confirmation on Christmas Day that Hazlewood is still not right to play after his side strain.

Jhye Richardson should keep his place after a maiden five-fer, with Michael Neser dropping out for Cummins.

Green, seamer

 (PA)
(PA)

Cameron Green was full of compliments for England when asked to speak before the Second Test. On dismissing Joe Root twice, he said: “I’ve just got lucky a couple of times”, before constantly reminding reporters that he’s a humble fifth bowler whose job is to give the big names a rest.

And then of Ben Stokes, notionally his opposite number, Green said: “He’s been incredible. You say his numbers don’t jump off the page, well I think that they do, to be fair. As a guy, he comes in at number five and bowls 25 overs every innings. It’s incredible.

“I’m not trying to compare myself to Ben Stokes. I think he’s the best in the world, so it’s pretty dangerous if you’re trying to compare to him. So, I’ll have to see how it goes.”

In the Test venues, a film of Australian players’ memories of Ashes Tests past have been playing. Green is from Perth, and discusses Stokes’ made century at the Waca in 2013. Long time listener, first time caller.

Fire Stoked

 (PA)
(PA)

Stokes had a typically all-action training session at the MCG today. In the field, he looked to be weighing up a return to the slip cordon after his finger injury, only for a couple of blows to the hand to limit his participation.

A bit of strapping did not prevent him having two separate bats and a very long bowl. He looked so much better in Adelaide; how England would love him to turn on the style on Saturday.

The fast Alleyne

England were joined at training by David Alleyne, the former Middlesex and Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper who now works in Melbourne as a coach at St Kevin's College, Toorak, not far from the MCG.

He was on dog-thrower duty with England’s batters.

Day for it

England will have hired out a venue by the sea at St Kilda for their Christmas Day function in Melbourne. Many but not all players and staff have wives, partners and children on tour with them, and it should be a happy – if not too merry, given the following day’s engagements – occasion.

After training in the vast MCG changing rooms on Friday, Wayne Bentley, England’s jovial and popular tour manager, dressed up as Father Christmas for the team’s Secret Santa event.

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