England need Ashes miracle after painful day for Joe Root – second Test day four

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England look likely to head to the third Ashes Test 2-0 down after a painful day in more ways than one for captain Joe Root.

The touring skipper suffered two nasty blows to the groin area before a devastating dismissal late on day four at the Adelaide Oval, continuing his bitter experiences of Ashes cricket in Australia.

Root nicked Mitchell Starc in the final act of Sunday’s play, crushing England’s hopes of building a huge defensive rearguard around their leader and star batter. They ended on 82 for four, 385 adrift and with three full sessions awaiting on a deteriorating pitch.

Root had suffered a traumatic day even before his dismissal, sent for precautionary scans after being struck in his unprotected nether regions while facing throw downs in the warm-ups and then suffering a brutal repeat deep in the final session.

He was struck clean on the box at 85mph, buckling in pain and taking five minutes out before his ill-fated attempt to see out the day.

Pic of the day

England captain Joe Root hits the floor after being struck in the groin by Mitchell Starc.
England captain Joe Root hit the floor just before his side hit the skids (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Top tweet

It is hard to tell if the well-known England supporters’ club were referring to the match situation or the captain’s misfortune with this one-word post, but it fits just as well for both.

Magic number

When Dawid Malan claimed his first Test wickets during a decidedly gentle passage of play in the middle of the day, he became the seventh England player to strike in the match following James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Ben Stokes, Ollie Robinson and Joe Root. Test Match Special statistician Andy Zaltzman was able to identify the last time the number of successful bowlers had been so high – 1965 against South Africa.

Offie Robinson

Ollie Robinson twirled his way through three overs of spin.
Ollie Robinson twirled his way through three overs of spin (Jason O’Brien/PA)

The increasingly-curious omission of Jack Leach and the temporary absence of Root saw England scrambling around for slow bowling options to hurry things along in the afternoon session but it was still a surprise to see Stokes persuade Robinson to take a turn midway through his spell. He has done so before for Sussex in the past but, if England were honest, the sight of the 6ft 6in seamer lobbing down some vanilla off-breaks in sunglasses was hardly the kind of cricket the Ashes brand is built around.

Dancing with the stars

If there was any doubt about how the mood in the Australia camp was after a dominant start to their biggest series, it was settled by a late cameo from Usman Khawaja. He has been overlooked twice in a row for the off-form Marcus Harris but still lit up a late substitute fielder stint with some fancy footwork after a group of fans in fancy dress implored him to perform for them while he marshalled the boundary rope.

Quote of the day

England bowling coach Jon Lewis hopes Ben Stokes can produce another miraculous effort to save the match.

England prospects bleak

Things have gone wrong for England on the field and there are worrying signs off it
Things have gone wrong for England on the field and there are worrying signs off it (Jason O’Brien/PA)

England are not only staring down the barrel of defeat but the outlook for the rest of the tour is not so bright either, former captain Sir Alastair Cook fears. The second Test began with news that Australia captain Pat Cummins had been deemed a close contact of someone to have tested positive for coronavirus, and Sunday brought confirmation two members of the media had tested positive.

Cook told BT Sport: “Are there going to be restrictions for them in Melbourne and Sydney? They didn’t want to tour Australia under these restrictions. All this stuff is going to start building again and England are probably going to be 2-0 down. How that dressing room stays together – it is so important they play some good cricket – but it is going to be a hell of a task for Root, (coach Chris) Silverwood and that management team.”

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