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Skipper Joe Root confident of 'banging out a hundred' in Ashes

England captain Joe Root

FILE - England captain Joe Root. Photo: Brenton Edwards/AFP

Published Dec 24, 2021

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Melbourne — Joe Root has backed himself to "bang out a hundred" as England face a must-win Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and says he expects a response from his team after successive Ashes defeats.

The England captain has never reached three figures in Australia but he went close in the nine wicket-defeat in the first Test in Brisbane (89) before hitting 62 in Adelaide, when they crashed by 275 runs.

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So far, he and Dawid Malan are the only English players to make half-centuries and know they need to convert their good starts into big scores to give the team any hope of clawing back into the five-Test series.

"I feel in a really good place with my batting," Root, who has enjoyed a record-breaking 2021, told English media.

"I feel confident I can, in these next three games, bang out a hundred in these conditions. I know that's a brave thing to say but my conversion rate this year, it's not been an issue at all.

"I expect a response from our players and I would like to bring a nice Christmas present home for everyone who stays up."

Root became just the fourth player in history — and first since 2008 — to plunder 1,600 Test runs in a calendar year during the Adelaide Test, but a maiden century in Australia has always eluded him.

The visitors have never needed their skipper more — they must beat Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to keep alive their hopes of winning the series.

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Malan admitted on Thursday there had been frank discussions after Adelaide, where a first-innings batting collapse coupled with poor bowling and fielding cost England the match, with Root not holding back.

"I'll always try to look at things with a level, pragmatic approach," said the captain, who has been criticised by English media for some of his decisions in Australia.

"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. I just hope it's not too late.

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"There is plenty of motivation for the group and we are doing everything we can to make sure it is 2-1 by the time we leave here (Melbourne)."

AFP

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