England captain Joe Root has urged his side to stick together as they look to restore some pride during this week’s fourth Ashes Test with Australia in Sydney (Match result – Australia 7/5, Draw 4/5, England 10/1).
It has been a disastrous Tour to date for England, as heavy defeats in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne mean they have already lost their chance of regaining the famous urn and are instead playing for nothing but pride during the final two Tests.
Their cause has not been helped heading into the fourth Test, which gets under way on Wednesday at the SCG, as several members of the coaching team, including head coach Chris Silverwood, will miss the contest after delivering positive Covid tests.
Other support staff have been drafted in to help with preparations, with Root (11/4 – to be top series batter) and the rest of the squad also taking on extra responsibilities, and the under-fire skipper, whose leadership qualities have been questioned during the series, believes the tourists could be galvanised by their recent adversity.
“With the amount of coaches we have had missing, it has made things disjointed and challenging but it is a chance to come together,” Root told reporters.
“That is what we need now: stick tight, stay together. It would be easy to get fractious and point fingers at who could be better, but we are in this together. As a team we have not performed as well as we can do. We have to stand up, and take our chances here.”
England could make changes for the fourth Test, with bowler Stuart Broad potentially coming back into the side.
Broad has only featured in one of the three matches to date in the series and he has admitted he will be considering his Test future between now and the start of England’s Tour of the West Indies in March.
Australia vice-captain Steve Smith admits he is surprised that a player of Broad’s experience and quality has been underutilised by the tourists during the series and he is relishing potentially facing off against the 35-year-old once again this week.
“We have been surprised, there has probably been two wickets that would have suited him well (in the first and third Tests),” Smith said.
“He bowled well in Adelaide and he’s always been a good contest for me. He’s got me out a few times, I’ve scored runs off him. I think it’s been a decent battle.
“Him and Jimmy (Anderson) together have been world-class performers for a long time. Maybe we’ll see them together this week.”
Australia (7/4 – to win series 5-0) will be aiming to move a step closer to completing a series whitewash during the fourth Test, but they will be without batter Travis Head, who is the host’s leading run scorer in the series, as he has also tested positive for Covid-19.