Scottish Daily Mail



Joe Root hailed an ‘important step forward’ after england hung on for a nail-biting draw with nine wickets down at the SCG to avoid another Ashes whitewash. Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, two old bowling campaigner­s coming together with the bat, hung on for the final two overs of the last day of the fourth test after Australia had been forced to turn to the part-time leg-breaks of Steve Smith because of fading light. But england stood firm to end on 270 for nine and take the consolatio­n of avoiding a third 5-0 thrashing in Australia in their last five tours. It means Root, who could be approachin­g the end of his fiveyear captaincy reign, will never have a whitewash on his record despite leading england in three unsuccessf­ul Ashes attempts. ‘I spoke a lot about putting pride back into english cricket,’ said a drained-looking Root afterwards. ‘this has done that in a small way. We never make it easy for ourselves, do we? It was going to take a good display and I’m really proud of the guys for doing that. ‘Avoiding a whitewash was really important, especially on the back of the previous test. Losing in Melbourne was a really dark day for english test cricket. We didn’t win and we were a long way behind in this game but to get a draw shows character, desire and pride. It was a very important step forward for this group.’

Root revealed Jos Buttler, who fractured his left index finger trying to take a ball from Mark Wood that kept low, is out of the final test in Hobart and will now fly home. there are also doubts about Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, who both batted through injuries to play a big part in saving the test for england, with the three injured middle-order players surviving 266 balls between them on the last day. Haseeb Hameed is another who looks sure to miss out on the pink-ball test in tasmania after making his sixth-successive single-figure score. Rory Burns, dropped after the second test in Adelaide, looks sure to return. Sam Billings, who drove nine hours from the Gold Coast to Sydney after his emergency call-up on Friday and is now in quarantine, is in line to make his test debut as a keeper-batsman with doubts over Bairstow’s thumb injury. ‘Jos is going to have to fly home because it’s quite a serious injury,’ said Root. ‘For him to front up from the moment he took that knock shows how much he cares, and how much it means for him to play for england. I’m really proud of the way all the injured players stood up, clearly in a lot of pain, to produce for england.’ It was the third time Anderson had been involved in a rearguard attempt to save a test, famously hanging on with Monty Panesar to thwart Australia at Cardiff in 2009 but falling to the penultimat­e ball of the match against Sri Lanka at Headingley in 2014. this time he had few alarms in playing out the final over from Smith, who had given Australia late hope with the wicket of Jack Leach with 12 balls remaining. But Pat Cummins insisted he had no regrets about his conservati­ve declaratio­n on the fourth day which set england an improbable 388 to win. ‘It was a lot of fun,’ said the Australia captain. ‘I didn’t want to hand it to england on a platter, but for sure we were willing to risk them winning.’

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