Such was the disaster that was the innings defeat in Melbourne that expectations for this fourth Test are, understandably, low. Taking the match into a fifth day would be some sort of cause for celebration, a batsman scoring a century too. Even a draw – a rarity Down Under – would be for some tantamount to a win.
Root will doubtless be looking for more on the occasion of his 60th Test as England captain, a record beating Cook’s 59 matches at the helm. On top of the horrific batting display, Chris Silverwood’s position as coach, and existential worry about the state of the England game, one other question raised in the aftermath of the Melbourne massacre was whether Root’s time as skipper should end. Heading into today’s first day at Sydney Root once again deferred any discussion about his role.
“I need to make sure my full focus is on these two games,” he said. “First and foremost, I need to try to get the best out of the group, make sure we put in those performances we keep on banging on about out there on the field.
“We’ll worry about the captaincy at the end of the series.”
England named their side last night with the batters from the MCG all given another chance to prove they know what end of a bat to hold. In the attack Stuart Broad comes in for Ollie Robinson.
For Australia Usman Khawaja is in for Travis Head, who is in isolation with Covid, and Scott Boland, the home hero of the last Test, keeps his place in the attack that has done so much damage this series.