England Somehow Back in it | The Ashes | 2nd test - Day 4

Australia vs England
442/8 dec & 138
227 & and 176/4

12/05/2017

By Stuart Garlick

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Look, it's probably not going to happen, but Joe Root and his fellow England batsmen have given fans of the visiting side something to dream about in this second Ashes test. After looking out for the count at the end of the first day, it was down to the tourists to regroup and find some resolve from somewhere. They did that, in a thrilling fourth day.

A lot of the Ashes can be boiled down to psychology. The first test is often known as the "deciding first test" because of the importance of winning it. Though Australia almost invariably wins home Ashes series after winning the first match, there are notable examples in the history of the oldest rivalry in the international game of this not being the case - 2005 in England, for example. Therefore, Root will have instructed his team to believe there was still everything to play for.

Steve Smith might want to reflect on his decision not to enforce the follow-on even though it was open to him - it would have landed England in even deeper trouble than they were in on the third day, though hindsight is a wonderful thing. Nonetheless, if the decision swings the match England's way, then it might be considered a point in which the visitors, shorn of so many important players, started to believe in themselves and their own abilities a little more. Chris Woakes has four wickets, but it will be James Anderson, with five, who will feel most vindicated, with many critics pointing to his less-than-stellar record overseas and saying he could only bowl well at home. This proves them wrong.

Root is 67 not out, and will probably need to bat out the innings for England to have any chance in this match - they need 178 to win at the time of writing, and with conditions apparently so changeable, and Australia likely to bring their A-game to the final day, there might be more chance of that pitchside swimming pool ever seeming like a good idea at a cricket match, than of England pinching this one from under Australia's noses. But fans can dream.

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