Root feeling heat as England unravel

Aust 8(dec)-442 and 4-53 lead England 227 by 268 runs

The biggest challenge in Joe Root's career has become even more difficult after Australia inflicted another damaging blow on England's embattled skipper.

Staring down the barrel of another heavy loss, the visitors needed something special from their leader but Root's dismissal highlighted the psychological hold Australia have over the Old Enemy.

Aside from Stuart Broad, there is no player in the English XI performing near their top. Unless this changes, it's hard to picture a way back for Root's men in Adelaide. The urn could be back in Australian hands by Christmas and another whitewash completed in the new year.

Australia's dominance over England can be seen in the battle between the two captains.

Steve Smith's century was the difference between the two sides in Brisbane while Root's shock call to send Australia in Adelaide has backfired. Root's decision has already earned comparisons to Nasser Hussain's disastrous decision in Brisbane 15 years ago.

The Australian skipper has also got inside the head of his opposing number. Smith gleefully outlined last week how his bowlers would target Root's pads having seen him dismissed leg before wicket in 11 of his previous 29 Test innings.

They deployed a similar method here, peppering the stumps before tempting Root into an extravagant drive at a wide and full offering which was taken by Cameron Bancroft at third slip.

A shattered Root stood in disbelief, practiced his shot before trudging off the ground with his team's innings in tatters.

His dismissal followed that of James Vince, whose attempt to push off the back foot was also reckless.

Their approach was in contrast to the patience shown by Shaun Marsh, who batted for nearly six-and-a-half hours for his unbeaten 126.

"[They] didn't have to play them. The key this morning should have been don't play anything unless you have to," former England captain and batting great Geoffrey Boycott, who was known for his defensive play, said on BT Sport.

"Pick it off on the leg side, which is the safe side. If they give you anything on the off-stump leave it. If they give you anything straighter pick it off. I thought the two wickets were poor."

"There's not one Australian batsman who took on the bowlers, scored quickly. Marsh worked hours and hours to get in then he earned the right later on."

Root's nine continued his poor record in Australia, where he is averaging 26.7 compared to his career mark of nearly 53.

Root lost his place in the England team during the capitulation in 2013-14 and while there is no chance he will be dropped again here, talk of another 5-0 hammering has already begun.

"Today is the biggest day of the #Ashes series. If England perform well & post a big 1st innings score then they're back in the series," Australian leg-spin great Shane Warne tweeted.

"The players will believe and so will the fans in the team. If Australia roll them & have a big lead, there's only one thing to happen - whitewash."

This story Root feeling heat as England unravel first appeared on The Age.