Joe Root blamed England’s new ball attack of James Anderson and Stuart Broad after the tourists’ Ashes hopes were all but snuffed out by a 275-run defeat in the second Test.
England began the final day in Adelaide needing a miraculous rearguard action to salvage a draw and while Jos Buttler’s dogged 207-ball 26 did take the game into the final session, Australia never looked like being denied a 2-0 lead.
It means England travel to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test needing an historic reversal in fortunes to avoid a third straight Ashes series defeat Down Under, and piles more pressure on Root and head coach Chris Silverwood.
Dressing room relations might be even more strained in light of Root’s unusually forthright criticism of his seam attack. Although he did not name Anderson and Broad specifically, it appeared that the captain was most frustrated with the new ball bowlers, whom he accused of bowling the wrong lengths and failing to learn the lessons of four years ago, when England were also well beaten in Adelaide.
“With ball in hand, we didn’t bowl the right lengths,” Root told the BBC. “We needed to bowl fuller. As soon as we did in the second innings, we created chances. That’s frustrating. We did it four years ago and didn’t learn from it. We have to be better.
“We weren’t brave enough at times to get the ball up there. We have to be better going into the next game.
“We need to be braver. We needed to look to do as we did in Brisbane [in the first Test] as well. As soon as we did that, that’s the benchmark for us moving forward. We need to look at those passages of play and do it for longer. We need to exploit the conditions.”
Anderson and Broad returned to the side for Adelaide after having been left out in the first Test in favour of Mark Wood and spinner Jack Leach, but claimed only three wickets in 55 overs between them in Australia’s first innings.