England’s media have attacked their captain for his miserable series with the bat in the Ashes.
England’s media have attacked their captain for his miserable series with the bat in the Ashes.

‘Shrinking with responsibility’: England attacks captain

ENGLAND great Ian Botham has delivered a scathing assessment on Joe Root's mental state with his team on the verge of surrendering the Ashes.

Root is averaging just 29 with the bat this series and failed again in Perth on day four.

Speaking on Bill and Boz, Botham said Root will be trying to "find a very big hole to climb into to gather his thoughts."

 

And the UK press has savaged Root's leadership too, with The Telegraph reporting the stress levels have caught up with the captain which led to a "desperate shot" off Nathan Lyon.

"Joe Root has given every impression of being in control of his emotions on this tour but his shot against Nathan Lyon was the desperate stroke of a captain losing an Ashes series," Nick Hoult wrote.

"Root must feel as if he is running into the Fremantle Doctor blowing a gale.

Australia's Nathan Lyon (far right) celebrates as his captain Steve Smith (bottom centre) after catching England's captain Joe Root.
Australia's Nathan Lyon (far right) celebrates as his captain Steve Smith (bottom centre) after catching England's captain Joe Root.

"He has been buffeted by off field incidents he could never have imagined when he left home on Oct 28, his runs have dried up and his team is losing a Test match in which they scored 403 in the first innings. "

The Daily Mail declared Root "seems to be shrinking with responsibility" as the Ashes slip away.

"The rain, much like England's captain, promised much but again failed to deliver on day four in Perth," Martin Samuel wrote.

"Three months' worth in a day was promised but what blew through was little more than a shower, a metaphor for England's general performance, and the 14 runs recorded by Joe Root.

"Neither rain nor Root looked capable of saving England, although at least the precipitation improved its performance overnight and has another day to go at it.

"By comparison, Root's chance is gone."

These strong critiques follow former England off-spinner Graeme Swann's assertion that there is no different between Steve Smith and Root as batsmen, but the captaincy has hindered his ex-teammate.

"Joe Root could be our best ever player," Swann told Test Match Special. "There's no difference between Joe Root and Steve Smith in terms of ability. Yet Steve Smith is so much more prolific than Root. And it's because the captaincy suits Smith. He's really flourished.

"To me, that's not Joe's way. I think he was made captain because there was a lack of choice."

As for Root's dismissal on Sunday for 20, Swann labelled it "bizarre".

"When you're England's best player and you're trying to save the game, it's a bizarre shot," Swan said. "It's unusual from Joe.

"His dismissal disappointed me today. He just meekly wafted his bat at it."

A tale of two captains: England’s Joe Root (L) reacts after being caught, while Australia’s Steve Smith smiles.
A tale of two captains: England’s Joe Root (L) reacts after being caught, while Australia’s Steve Smith smiles.

Former captain and rock at the top of the order Geoffrey Boycott too lamented the struggles of England's senior batsmen Alastair Cook and Root.

"Root is like a captain on a sinking ship," Boycott wrote in a column for The Telegraph.

"He has the cares and wears of a team that is losing the Ashes.

"He has not only had to do loads of interviews about why we are losing.

"He has had to talk about off field incidents and in the end it wears you down.

"Here he was out playing a big shot to a ball from Lyon that was over two feet wide when England were trying to save the game.

"That tells you everything."

Meanwhile, Mike Atherton praised the efforts of England, who toiled away for some 180 overs in "the dirt."

But ultimately settled on the obvious, that his former side just simply can't match their opponents on Australian soil.

"England were all blood, sweat and tears during 180 overs in the dirt," Atherton wrote in The Times.

"You couldn't fault their commitment and the fielding held together, when for many England teams of the past, it has fallen apart in similar circumstances.

"It was here, infamously, that Graham Thorpe booted the ball past cover in frustration having dropped a sitter at slip in 1995.

"There were none of those tell-tale signs of implosion on the long spell in the field on the third and fourth days. It was, in its way, admirable."



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