Ashes 2017-18: England Seniors Find Lost Zeal To Rise Up This Time

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When Joe Root came to Australia with his Ashes side last month, he would have hoped his go to men in the squad would have delivered the goods to script a fighting tale. For three Tests that did not happen. Australia regained the urn, as England’s quartet of senior players bit the dust.
As Alastair Cook struggled for runs atop, skipper Root failed to convert scores like his counterpart Steve Smith. England’s best Test bowler James Anderson was the lone figure to shine on few occasions that included a five-for in the 2nd Test. His senior pace partner Stuart Broad took the most of the hit with unimpressive shows.
In the fourth Test at the MCG that started on the Boxing Day, the scenario changed. Suddenly England’s famed four turned things around. On a dry surface at the MCG, they struck the right chords and have England in a decent position at stumps on the 2nd day. It was a collective affair of sorts as things looked to fall in place for the visitors.
Firstly, Broad and Anderson looked solid once again as a pair as the duo took seven wickets between them to light up the proceedings. From 244/3, the Aussies were skittled out for 327 runs. Secondly, Cook then build upon the show by the bowlers to notch a special century. He was well supported by Joe Root with an unbeaten 49.
For Broad, his emphatic 4/51 comes as a big respite after all the criticisms he received off late. He had only been limited to just five wickets in three Test matches in the series with an unhealthy average too. He captured the imagination of what he can do on his day to show he still has it in him to be on the line-up. All that had been lacking was consistency.
Broad has been a carrier of England in Tests alongside Anderson and has 397 wickets to his name. In this Test match itself, he could reach a landmark of 400 scalps; a feat only the big guns have achieved. Broad knows he deserved some flak from former cricketers, but credit to him to rise up this time and bowl his heart out.
His economy of 1.82 backed his wickets in the other end as slowly he found the much needed confidence that evaded him in the 1st three Tests. He bowled better as the game progressed and that helped in his pace too.
England’s leading wicket-taker Anderson helped Broad by providing a supporting role. After getting centurion David Warner on the first day, he backed himself with two scalps on the 2nd day. The veteran pace bowler’s 3/61 was an important moment in England’s play as Anderson notched up his 15th wicket in the series.
Like Broad, Cook has struggled on this trip, having scored only 83 runs in six innings prior to his ton in the Boxing Day Test. This unbeaten 104 runs laced with 15 fours was long due from the side’s leading run-scorer in Test matches. After not being able to go past 50 runs in his last 10 innings, Cook finally defined courage to stand tall this time.
The key moment in the match was his unbeaten 122-run partnership with Joe Root, who too is eyeing a maiden ton in the series. Cook looked like his former self and this time he withered all the pressure early on before finding his feet. An array of shots followed suit once he got set and although luck favoured him once when Smith dropped a difficult take, Cook cashed in.
Australia haven’t been Cook’s best hunting opposition. He has rather struggled against the famed opposition. It was his first Test ton against the Aussies in seven years and 24 matches. Cook got to his 32nd Test ton in Test cricket, and it has come in the right time for the senior protege.
Credit must also go to Root, who hasn’t quite lived up to the billing. Considered as part of the special Fab Four batsmen in world cricket, Root’s own form was a let down. He had just two half-centuries to his name prior to this Test in the series, and looks like he will get his 3rd. But he needs to convert this innings into a big score.
Just where the likes of Smith and Virat Kohli keeps ramping up big scores, Root needs to find the formula. The 3rd day is crucial for England and a lot will depend on Root to see his side make the most out of the position they are in.
Brief Scores: Australia (1st Inns) – 327/10 (Warner 103, Smith 76; Broad 4/51) lead England 192/2 (Cook 103*, Root 49*) by 135 runs at stumps on Day 2

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