The 2021/22 Ashes, the first in Covid times, is a strange series. And day four of the Second Test in Adelaide might just be the strangest yet; at once it was a reminder of the hold Australia have over England down under and the tenuousness of the whole thing.
For Joe Root, the England captain. It was an especially odd day. He started it by taking a nasty blow to the nether-regions while taking throw downs from Jeetan Patel, the spin bowling coach. There was swelling, difficulty walking, and a trip to hospital for a scan that meant he missed the first 78 minutes of the day.
Root did eventually take the field and picked up two wickets, just like his regular batting partner Dawid Malan, exposing the folly of England’s lack of spin. Ollie Robinson, known for his seam, also wheeled out three overs of offspin, as he did a couple of times for Sussex in the County Championship five years ago. It was all strange and, on a pitch turning, perhaps an indictment of England’s bowling of spin, and their attitude towards it.
Root ended the day walking off dejected, having been dismissed by the final ball of the day, a lovely delivery from wide on the crease from Mitchell Starc. It was scarcely believable that an over earlier, Root was hit in the same area – although he was wearing a box this time. The bowler was Starc, Australia’s fastest, and the accuracy unerring; Root looked like he was about to be sick and took five minutes to pull himself together.
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