Ashes 2021-22: Head delighted at Root dismissal, Lyon to be key on final day in Adelaide

By Sports Desk December 19, 2021

Travis Head was delighted to see Joe Root dismissed with the final ball of day four in Adelaide, while Australia's stand-in vice-captain expects Nathan Lyon to dominate day five of the second Ashes Test.

Root's 24 on Sunday may have seen him overtake Alastair Cook (4,844) to become England's top run-scorer as Test captain, but the current skipper had little to celebrate barring yet another personal landmark in a fantastic 2021 for the Yorkshireman.

The tourists started positively, dismissing nightwatchman Michael Neser (3), Marcus Harris (23) and Steve Smith (6) in quickfire fashion to leave the hosts 55-4.

However, Marnus Labuschagne (51) and Head (51) fought back, before Cameron Green (33 not out) and Mitchell Starc (19) guided Australia to their declaration total of 230-9, setting England a mammoth 468 to win.

Rory Burns (34) and Dawid Malan (20) offered some brief resistance after Haseeb Hameed had been removed for a duck by Jhye Richardson, but the pair were soon sent packing to leave Root and Ben Stokes (3 not out) to try and save the day.

Root, though, fell to Starc's final delivery after he had earlier been hit in the groin by the left-arm quick, and Head appreciated what a big wicket the England captain was.

"Root is a huge wicket, he is in fantastic form," Head told reporters after play ended on the penultimate day at the Adelaide Oval with England 82-4.

"I have a lot of sympathy for him – it wasn't a great time to get hit.

"We got told to give him some space [on the pitch]. Starc on that line is never pretty and unfortunately with the day he [Root] has had it wasn't a great time to get hit.

"They've still got some quality players. Nathan Lyon will play a massive part, the ball is turning. It's a big day tomorrow."

England will need what would seemingly be a miracle on Monday, with Stokes – who delivered unlikely heroics at Headingley in 2019 against the same opposition – leading the charge.

England's fast-bowling coach Jon Lewis expressed his support for Stokes, who he believes is the best man for the task ahead, while hailing the valiant efforts of Root.

"Anytime one of your best players [Root] gets out, it's a knock," Lewis told reporters.

"Joe showed a hell of a lot of character to go out. There was no doubt in Joe's mind he was going out to bat and it shows what a great player and brilliant leader he is. 

"Since he got hit he stood up, he could have had a nightwatchman. He wants to show his team how hard he wants to try for the team.

"They will try to survive the day tomorrow to get ourselves out of this game with a draw. It's a big ask I know."

"Ben [Stokes] has done it before, he has done special things in an England shirt."

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