(Photo: Getty Images)
By Adam Ellis
England captain Joe Root was left to go on the defensive after his side surrended the urn to Australia in a loss by an innings and 41 runs defeat at the WACA.
Victory handed the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Ashes with two Tests to play in Melbourne and Sydney, and with blame quick to be laid at the feet of England’s key figures, Root rebuked criticism directed towards batsman Alastair Cook and bowler Stuart Broad.
“It’s important we don’t panic and make hasty decisions after three games,” Root told reporters when asked whether changes would be made to the squad for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
Asked whether the experienced duo could rediscover their form, Root said: “I’d like to think so. Their performances over a long period of time speak for themselves and they have been in situations where things haven’t gone for them before.
“That’s why they have played so many game. I see no reason why throughout the rest of this series they can’t do that again.
The knives were out in the aftermath of the match with Graeme Swann saying: “Joe Root and Alastair Cook have done next to nothing.
“The senior guys who you expect to stand up and outshine the rookies have done the exact opposite. The shining lights have been Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan.”
Trevor Bayliss’ side have now been condemned to defeat in seven consecutive Tests overseas and fellow pundit Michael Vaughan said Root must now begin a mission to find character in his side.
“He’s 10 games into his role. He has to start having a look around the dressing room and try and identify the characters that he wants to take forward – there might be one or two that he doesn’t.
“Is it now time to start building? Is it now time to start looking at the future? And if it means that he has to make a tough call or two then he’s going to have make that.”
England resumed day five on 132-4 and despite play being tempered with rain, it took Australia’s attack – spearheaded by Josh Hazlewood (18-6-48-5) – 34 overs to wrap up the win and have England all out for 218.
After jubilant cheers and a group huddle, Australia captain Steve Smith admitted the excitement gave way to his emotions once he had retreated to the dressing room of the ground where he scored his maiden ton on home turf back in 2013.
“I was crying in the sheds a bit a minute ago,” the 28-year-old, who has 22 Test centuries after just 59 Tests.
“Everything just came out. So much work and time has been put into this,” Smith told ABC Radio.
“I really wanted to do some really great things.
“It was my first Ashes series as captain and I wanted to make my mark and do something really special.