Ashes 2021/22: Are Joe Root and his bowling attack at odds after going down 2-0 in the series?

After going down 2-0 in the series, tensions are building between England captain Joe Root and his bowling contingent, writes Peter Lalor.

Tension could be brewing between England captain Joe Root and his bowlers after a horror start to the Ashes. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Tension could be brewing between England captain Joe Root and his bowlers after a horror start to the Ashes. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

There are clear signs of tension between the England bowling group and captain Joe Root over tactics as England looks for someone to blame for the lacklustre showing in the first two Test matches.

The situation among players looks so serious that Ricky Ponting believes Root should be more authoritative and tell his bowlers to stick to his plans or be dragged out of the attack for not following orders.

After losing the Adelaide Test and falling 2-0 behind in the five Test series the visiting captain said the bowlers had to share some of the blame.

A man under pressure. Joe Root’s side is down 2-0 in the five-match series. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
A man under pressure. Joe Root’s side is down 2-0 in the five-match series. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

“If we’re being brutally honest, we needed to bowl fuller,” Root, who also said the batting needed to be better, said in the wake of the loss.

“As soon as we did in that second innings, we created chances. We need to do that more, we need to be a bit braver, get the ball up there a bit further because when we do, we‘re going to create chances and make life difficult.

“That‘s one of the frustrating things because it’s something we did four years ago and got it wrong and we didn’t learn from it. We made the same mistakes last week (in Brisbane) – we just have to be better and we’ve got to learn those lessons very quickly.”

Veteran quick Stuart Broad, who has made it known in the past he is not always happy with management decisions, had defended the bowling in his newspaper column for the Sunday Mail.

“I think we held the game well on an opening day which returned a bit of a strange scorecard: Australia were 221 for two at the end of play and you would expect it to be something closer to 321 when losing so few wickets,” he said.

“But they didn‘t particularly time the ball well, the pitch didn’t allow them to, and although there was an argument that we could have bowled fuller, because the ball did so little, our economy rates would have gone through the roof.

“Without movement, fuller means you‘re bowling genuine half-volleys and that’s not a great place to be. As the TV coverage here has pointed out, this is the least a pitch has moved in Australia since 2014, so we held the game well in my opinion.”

Stuart Broad will always let his feelings be known. Picture: Peter Mundy/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Stuart Broad will always let his feelings be known. Picture: Peter Mundy/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Ricky Ponting was incredulous when he heard Root blame the bowling.

“I nearly fell off my seat when I heard that,” Ponting told cricket.com.

“Whose job is it then to make them change? Why are you captain then?

“If you can‘t influence your bowlers on what length to bowl, what are you doing on the field?

“Joe Root can come back and say whatever he likes but if you‘re captain, you’ve got to be able to sense when your bowlers aren’t bowling where you want them to.

“And if they‘re not going to listen, you take them off, simple as that.

“Give someone else a chance that is going to do it for you. Or you have a really strong conversation with them on the field to tell them what you need.

“That‘s what captaincy is all about.”

“If you can‘t influence your bowlers on what length to bowl, what are you doing on the field?” asks Ricky Ponting of Joe Root. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
“If you can‘t influence your bowlers on what length to bowl, what are you doing on the field?” asks Ricky Ponting of Joe Root. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Root talked tough after the match saying he expected the quicks to heed his call.

“We need to learn and we need to learn fast,” he said. “We can’t make the same mistakes that we have made so far. But we have to absolutely believe and have that same attitude that we had today. If we do that, I’m convinced we have what it takes to win Test matches over here. But we can’t keep missing opportunities.

“I expect (the players to respond to what I’m asking). We’ve got three massive games now, with the Ashes on the line. If that’s not motivation enough, I don’t know what is.”

Failure may be an orphan, but many are accused of delinquent parenting.

Bowling coach Jon Lewis pointed the finger at selection mistakes in search for fault.

“We felt the ball would move around under the lights a little bit more than it has.

“In hindsight, you might say we should have picked a different side.

“But at the time, we felt like we picked a team that would win the game.”

Broad and Anderson were both rested for the first Test in Brisbane. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Broad and Anderson were both rested for the first Test in Brisbane. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Broad and Jimmy Anderson were upset to be left out of the first Test.

“It would be wrong in this scenario to kick up a stink,” he wrote. “On the flip side, I love Ashes cricket, love bowling at the Gabba and feel like I could’ve had a positive influence on a pitch like that.

“Of course, in my mind I was 100 per cent preparing to play and that’s especially important given my role. As a new-ball bowler, you are faced with bowling one of the most high-pressured deliveries in world sport.

“Over the past 12 months, Jimmy and I tried to ensure we were as fit as could be in the current Covid climate, ready to go and available for all five Tests in Australia. I think we ticked that box – but England selection is not in the hands of players.

“It is in those of people who have to make choices based on conditions and the balance of the team and our job now with four matches to go is to be ready for the next (Test).

“I was disappointed not to play but I also realise this series is a marathon and not a sprint.”

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