Joe Root says now is not the time to discuss whether he should stay on as captain long-term after England crumbled to a dismal third-Test defeat to surrender the Ashes to Australia in Melbourne.
England’s woes Down Under continued at the MCG as they collapsed to a pathetic innings and 14-run defeat on the morning of the third day, handing the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series and Root insists they now must focus on avoiding a whitewash.
The tourists have been completely blown away by the Aussies in the series and must now try to avoid an embarrassing 5-0 whitewash (8/11) with Root somehow having to try and lift spirits in a demoralised dressing room.
There are now serious question marks over Root’s suitability as skipper moving forward but the Yorkshireman, who has been England Test captain since February 2017, says his focus is not on himself but how the team can set about winning the two remaining Tests in Sydney and Hobart.
“My main focus and the groups focus is on the next ball, which is the first ball of the next Test. You can’t start looking at things too far in the future. More than anything, we’ve got to make sure we end up coming away from this tour with something.
“My energy has to be all about trying to win the next game. I can’t be selfish and start thinking about myself,”
“We do not want to be stood there 5-0 at the end of the series. We’ve got two Test matches, a lot of World Test Championship points to play for, and we have to put some pride back into the badge and give the fans that are so loyal to us back home something to shout about and enjoy.”
He added: “You’ve got to rally the players. That’s a big part of captaincy. You’ve got to try and instil that belief in every single one of your team and your squad. More than ever now.”
Root admitted the manner of England’s three defeats so far have been hard to take as they have barely competed in Brisbane, Adelaide and at the MCG in the Boxing Day showpiece and he is searching for answers as to why his players have been so poor.
He said on BT Sport: “It is bitterly disappointing, gut-wrenching, everything you don’t want at this stage of the tour.
“The reality is that we have been outplayed thoroughly. We have underperformed. We know that and we know the areas we need to keep developing.”
The fourth Ashes Test starts in Sydney on January 4 and Betfred are offering odds of 33/1 for England to rally and win there and in Tasmania in the final Test to make it 3-2 overall, while Australia are 11/4 to win 4-0.