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'It is not good enough' - Joe Root admits anger at England's Ashes performances

Captain says he expects response from team in Melbourne with series on the line

Joe Root pushes the ball through the off side, Australia vs England, 2nd Test, The Ashes, Adelaide, 3rd day, December 18, 2021

"I'm confident I can bang out a hundred in these next three games" - Joe Root  •  Getty Images

Joe Root, England's Test captain, has admitted that "basic mistakes" from his team in Australia had left him feeling angry and frustrated. With the tourists 2-0 down and struggling to stay alive in the series, Root said he would "expect a response from everyone" for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
England have taken a battering in the two opening Tests, losing by nine wickets in Brisbane and then 275 runs in Adelaide. Only two batters - Root and Dawid Malan - have managed to pass 50, with the team collectively failing to reach 300 in four innings so far.
Chris Silverwood, the head coach, led a frank dressing-room debrief after the second Test, with a number of players reportedly made to watch their dismissals back on video. Root echoed some of the comments made by Dawid Malan on Thursday, saying that England's batters needed to make "good decisions for long periods of time" in order to prevent repeat collapses from occurring.
"It did come easy to be angry at the end of the last game because of the situation we're in and the manner in which we lost," Root told reporters in Melbourne. "I'll always try to look at things with a level, pragmatic approach but I don't think you could after the way we've played those last two games. I expect a response from everyone this week.
"There was a lot of frustration. Purely because of the basic mistakes that we've been making. And we've done it twice in a row. We can't afford to be losing eight wickets for 70 or 80 runs. It is not good enough. It is not the level that an England Test team should be playing at. The guys know that and they're very aware of that.
"Their work ethic is very good and you'll have seen how guys practice and how long they bat for in the nets, but sometimes I think we can be smarter about what we are practising and how we are practising.
"And understanding that batting, in my opinion, it's about making good decisions for long periods of time. It's not about hitting a million balls and feeling a million dollars. Sometimes it's just about finding a way of staying there until it becomes a little bit easier. And I think we need to harness that mentality a little bit more."
Root's own form has been solid, without quite hitting the peaks sustained during a record-breaking year in which he has so far scored 1630 runs. The 89 he made in the second innings at the Gabba remains his highest score in Australia, and after eight half-centuries from 11 Test appearances he said he was keen to "bang out a hundred" before long.
"I feel in a really good place with my batting," he said. "I'm playing nicely still. I'm confident I can bang out a hundred in these next three games.
"I know that's a brave thing to say but that conversion rate hasn't been an issue at all this year. I feel like I have an understanding of how I want to score my runs. I just need to have the bit between my teeth - over my dead body.
"It's about managing the conditions for me. If you look at three of the four dismissals I have had, they've been in that channel. It doesn't swing and it doesn't seam as much in these conditions, so you feel like you can hit the ball. You feel in control and that can lure you in. And that extra bit of bounce can bring the nick."
Root reiterated his belief that Australia are not "that much better than us", and again pointed to the need for his seamers to pitch the ball up. In particular he suggested that getting on top of Steven Smith and Marnus Labuschagne - who this week overtook Root as the ICC's No. 1-ranked batter - early in Australia's innings could be key.
"If we can dismiss them for not many runs, it will cause all sorts of panic. We saw it this time last year against India. It has a massive effect on the rest of the batting group. And we've got to look to exploit that as best we can."
Changes are expected in Melbourne, with Root looking to become the first captain since Don Bradman to lead his team to victory from 2-0 down in an Ashes series.
"I don't think Australia are that much better than us in these conditions," he said. "The scoreline would suggest they're absolutely a far better team than us but I don't think they are. If we perform anywhere like we can do, we'll put them in an uncomfortable position. We'll push back and we'll find ourselves in a very different situation leaving this ground.
"Whenever you go 2-0 down in a five-match series it is always tough. But we have to show resilience and not feel sorry for ourselves. We have to prove a point and show we are a far better team than what we have provided at the start."