Michael Vaughan on why Root needs his team’s help
Captain must figure out how to inspire England to cut out errors and play the way he wants
The trick of captaincy is to convince the team to play your way, and it looks like Joe Root has a job on his hands to persuade the England players to follow his lead. Joe will find out an awful lot about his players on this tour.
He is only nine games into the job, and we have to remember he has a lot to learn about captaincy.
But the frustration with this team is that they have to be cornered, and in a tight situation, before they respond.
England winning out here without Ben Stokes was always going to be a huge mountain to climb. In Adelaide, the conditions were English, rather than Australian, yet they were still beaten, and quite comfortably so, in the end.
For England not to lose 5-0, Joe and his team will have to pull off something spectacular. This Test was their big chance.
If they could not take 20 wickets here when the ball was moving around, where will they do it? Where are they going to make the big scores?
Joe will be feeling the pressure. Captaincy is a lonely place. Steve Smith would have had a couple of sleepless nights during this Test, Joe three or four wondering if he messed up over bowling first.
He has also been very open about his problem of converting fifties into hundreds. The more he worries about it, the less chance he has of improving it. He cannot think about it, he just has to play.
My advice is that when he reaches 50, he should walk away, look at the scoreboard and pretend he is on nought. It is hard when you fall in a trough, getting out certain ways or for certain numbers. He has just got to clear his head of the scoreboard.
He should be pleased with the way he played in the second innings. His old movements came back. In the first innings, he was out leaning back with his head falling over to the off side and trying to hit the ball too hard.
In the second innings, he had his old fight back in him and his body language was strong. England can only compete with big hundreds from him and Alastair Cook.
I did not have a problem with Joe’s decision to bowl after winning the toss on the first
morning, but England then bowled too short. This is Joe’s task. He went for the positive, attacking option but his bowlers did not buy into it with their lengths.
The batsmen then took too many risks in the first innings. Joe’s job is to get the bowlers to take risks with their lengths and the batsmen to minimise risks.
England never gave the ball a chance to hoop around after winning the toss.
I can understand if you are bowling to the likes of Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, who were so destructive on the front foot, that you might play it safe with lengths and worry about being blasted.
But David Warner is the only batsman in this Australian side capable of being so powerful on the front foot. There was no excuse for England to bowl safe and short. In the second innings, after they had been criticised and gifted a route back into the Test, they came out with better intent and attitude. The result was they bowled Australia out cheaply.
At this level, you need that mentality all the time. Bowlers have to be willing to risk their length.
Australia scored only 11 runs down the ground on day one out of 209. That tells you all you need to know about the length England were bowling.
England were frenetic when they batted in the first innings. This is a team who cannot cope when they take guard in their first innings and the opposition already have a big number on the board.
Over the past two years, when England have batted first, they average 400 with 18 centuries. When they bat second, they average 262 with one hundred.
I want to know why they are so poor when they bat second. It can only be a mental thing. They seem to go to gears three and four far too quickly.
It is not as if they have been on the wrong end of the conditions in this series. They had perfect batting conditions in Brisbane both times and they started their innings twice in the day time in Adelaide. When the lights came on in the second innings, the ball was 44 overs old.
One small change that could help is moving James Vince down to five and Dawid Malan up to three.
That would allow Vince to play shots against the older ball and Malan to dig in early on.
One last thing. I wonder why it takes England to be forced into a corner and criticised before they start to play properly.
Joe must wonder, too – it will be driving him mad.
Joe’s job is to get the bowlers to take risks and the batsmen to minimise risks