Hero to zeros: Root’s unwanted Ashes record

Australia start day five of the fourth Ashes Test with a vice-like grip on the urn; England captain Joe Root ended the previous day looking defeated - and with an unwanted record to his name.

England will resume on 2-18 chasing a nominal target of 383 to win, more realistically hoping to bat out the day for a draw, which itself seems a huge ask.

Root's match is over after he was dismissed for no runs by a fired-up Pat Cummins late in proceedings

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That is the England captain's third duck of the series, something no captain has 'achieved' in any previous Ashes series.

 

 

Five things we learned from day four at Old Trafford ...

 

JOE ROOT LOOKS DEFEATED

Bowled for a first-ball duck, for the second time in the series, and the third zero in his eight innings, the England captain failed dismally when his team needed it most having been run in the ground by Steve Smith for most of a day which would have started with him hoping for more fight from his team than they could muster.

 

England captain Joe Root knows the Ashes is slipping from his grasp in Manchester.
England captain Joe Root knows the Ashes is slipping from his grasp in Manchester.

 

Root has four 50s in the series to go with his four failures, but no hundreds, a highest score of 77, and has locals gunning for him after some questionable post-tea tactics when England still had the chance of keeping Australia down.

He didn't start with his gun bowlers, let the Aussies batters settle and the game slip before being bowled by Pat Cummins and trudging off with a very low hanging-head.

 

DON'T DISCOUNT MITCHELL STARC

It was always going to be a big day for Mitchell Starc after disappointing with his initial return in his first start for the series.

He was expensive, and wicketless on day three, despite opening the bowling ahead of Pat Cummins.

 

Australia's Mitchell Starc made up for a poor early showing to contribute to what looks like Australia’s Test.
Australia's Mitchell Starc made up for a poor early showing to contribute to what looks like Australia’s Test.

 

But he hit back hard on day four, and early too, breaking up the partnership of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes which threatened to keep the home team in the game.

He delivered a withering six-over spell when given the new ball, bowling Bairstow before getting an edge from Stokes which no-one at Headingley could manage.

He should have had four wickets but for a plumb LBW appeal turned down, but still finished with 3-80, a confidence-building effort for what looms as a massive final day's play for the quick.

 

THE DRS ISSUE IS GETTING DIRE

Australian captain Tim Paine tried to downplay his DRS use as an issue before the game, despite a blown review literally costing his team the third Test at Headingley.

Two more dud calls at Manchester, which took his tally to zero correct reviews from 11 attempts this series, nearly did the same again.

With England still seven short of avoiding the follow on, number 11 Jack Leach was out LBW to Mitch Starc, but was given not out by umpire Marais Erasmus.

Australia had no reviews left, having given up two which weren't even close, including another speculator for an LBW appeal off Nathan Lyon.

When three red lights showed up, coach Justin Langer shook his head. It only cost Australia 10 runs this time, but could cost the Test if Paine doesn't take it seriously.

 

LET'S TALK NATHAN LYON

In commentary Shane Warne said he couldn't remember the Australian off-spinner ever bowling so many short balls as he did in the first innings at Old Trafford, after which he finished with figures of 0-89.

 

Team-mates put a metaphorical and literal arm round Nathan Lyon’s shoulders on a tough day.
Team-mates put a metaphorical and literal arm round Nathan Lyon’s shoulders on a tough day.

 

"I think he's been a little bit worried, and knows he hasn't bowled at his best," Warne said, suggesting his missed run-out at Headingley, which would have won Australia the game, was affecting him.

"He's only human," said Warne.

Lyon bowled 36 overs without a breakthrough, and his figures since the first innings at Lord's are now 2-307. Even loads of turn and bounce couldn't help him get a wicket in Manchester. Australia needs a big second innings from him.

 

IT'S A SHORT WEEK FOR ENGLAND'S BOWLERS

The new-ball duo of Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer threw everything at Australia when the tourists went out to bat a second time, bowling 18 overs in row, nine each.

They rattled Australia's cage early, each taking two wickets, reducing the visitors to 4-44.

But were then blunted to the point of submission by Steve Smith, so much so Broad bowled a wide so far down leg side it didn't hit the pitch, and then threw his hands up in despair when he was swatted for four in the same over, his 14th of the innings.

It's just four days until they could have to bowl again at The Oval next Thursday, and with no back-up, that's some ask.