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Root hopes for SCG turnaround despite 'disjointed and challenging' situation in England camp

Some net bowlers are back, but with four coaches in isolation, everyone available has been helping with preparations

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Low on coaches, low on runs, and low on expectations - England's Test team has entered 2022 in a pretty grim state but captain Joe Root is clinging to the hope that the turnaround can begin at the SCG, although similar sentiments were expressed last week in Melbourne and things did not go well as they conceded the Ashes by the third Test, inside 12 days of action.
With four coaches in isolation - including Chris Silverwood - everyone available has been helping with preparations for the fourth Test. That has included the captain giving throwdowns and the analyst helping with catching practice. There were, at least, some net bowlers available on Monday after the scare the previous day when the entire group had to be removed following a positive Covid-19 test.
"With the amount of coaches we've had missing, it's made things slightly disjointed and challenging," Root said. "But it's an opportunity for us as a group to come tightly together, help each other prepare as well as we can do, and stand up in a bit of adversity and use that in a positive way when we get out there.
"We are all feeling for those guys sat in isolation desperately wanting to help us turn things around and we've got an opportunity in these two games to do that. We have to make sure we stand up and show we are a better team, which I know we are, than we've produced so far on this tour. See that as an opportunity, don't see it as a heavy burden, see it as a real chance to make some big Test runs, win a game with ball in hand and walk away from the trip with something."
But can the team, with so many batters seemingly low on confidence, really find a way to turn things around after the meek 68 all out on the third morning in Melbourne - albeit an innings that was set back by one of the finest hours of fast bowling you could witness?
"You can dwell on what's happened so far or we can look at the opportunities that present themselves in the immediate future," Root said. "That can be the making of some sides and the start of something, that's the approach we'll have to take."
"I'll look at my future beyond this tour at the end of it. Don't think that's a distraction that should be around the group or I should be wasting energy on right now"
Joe Root on his future as England Test captain
Quite what the XI will look like come Wednesday remains to be seen, but a decision will need to be made over whether there is any benefit in tinkering with the batting again. Bringing Rory Burns back one Test after dropping him would be an odd look but Haseeb Hameed has been picked apart by Australia's quicks. Dan Lawrence is the one specialist batter yet to be used. Ollie Robinson may have run his race after playing the first three Tests although there have been two extra days to recover.
The pitch was well-grassed two days out and showers are forecast throughout the game. England have not adjusted to any of the conditions they have faced in the series although things are unlikely to be as tough for batters here as in Melbourne.
"Whatever we're presented with here in two days we have to make sure we are on the right side of that and make sure we try to wrestle that momentum early on the Test match then drive it home," Root said.
He again refused to be drawn into a discussion on his future as captain. There is a short turnaround to England's next Test series in the Caribbean during March with the current feeling that it could be Silverwood, who is the first to pay the price for this drubbing and the startling decline in the team's Test cricket.
"I'll look at my future beyond this tour at the end of it," Root said. "Don't think that's a distraction that should be around the group or I should be wasting energy on right now. I need to make sure I'm throwing everything I can into these next two games, I owe that to this team and the players."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo