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England ‘still massively’ in Ashes fight, says Root

The Australia team celebrate the wicket of Jonny Bairstow at the Adelaide Oval yesterday (AP)
ADELAIDE: Captain Joe Root says England are “still massively” in the Ashes series after a second heavy Test defeat to Australia yesterday left his side facing a last stand in the third Test.
The Australians sealed a 120-run victory in the second Adelaide Test after a crushing 10-wicket triumph in the Brisbane opener, putting England’s hopes of retaining the Ashes on the line in Perth next week.
Compounding England’s task is the fact that the tourists have not beaten Australia at Perth’s WACA Ground since 1978. But Root put on a bold face after defeat Wednesday and said there was belief in the England camp that they can turn things around in the five-Test series and not head in the same direction as the 5-0 whitewash on the last tour to Australia in 2013-14.
“The way we batted in that second innings proved to everyone we are still massively in this series, simple as that,” Root told reporters.
“We’ve shown throughout the two Tests in periods we can out-perform Australia, but just not over five days.
“If we can perform to our ability for longer periods of time we’ll win games. The belief in dressing room is definitely there.”
Root said he “strongly disagreed” with the notion that his team are heading for the same fate as Alastair Cook’s tourists four years ago.
“I don’t think we’re in the same situation, we’re much better than that. We’re in a much better place,” he said.
Root said he was disappointed in himself for not leading the way on the final day after getting dismissed by Josh Hazelwood on his overnight score of 67 in the day’s third over. “In big series senior players have to step up and lead from the front and I tried to do that last night, but unfortunately this morning I couldn’t carry that on,” he lamented.
“That’s really disappointing as someone who wants to lead from the front and show the guys to lead the way. That hurts me a lot personally.”
Steve Smith revealed he took a sleeping pill to help him through a “tough 24 hours” before Australia sealed an ultimately comfortable win. Smith was a man under pressure heading into the final day, with questions over his decision not to enforce the follow-on while holding a 215-run first innings lead which allowed England back into the contest.
“I had to have a sleeping pill,” he said, “It has been a pretty tough 24 hours if I’m being honest. It’s all part of being captain of your country. You have to make difficult decisions and sometimes you’re going to make the wrong decision. It’s all part of the learning experience and hopefully I can learn something from this game.”
But Smith was adamant he had made the right call not to put England back into bat in bowling-friendly conditions with the moving pink ball under the Adelaide Oval lights.
“I guess my rationale behind the decision was that we were a long way in front of the game,” he said.
“If we bat reasonably well — I thought we batted pretty poorly to be honest to get to 350 — we should be getting up over 400. We didn’t do that but we were still a long way in front of the game and still confident. I would say that over the last day or two I have had a few different thoughts. I’ve read a lot of things. In the end, we’ve won the game, so it’s all irrelevant.”