Under-fire England captain Joe Root insists there is no split between him and his pace bowlers amid questions over his leadership heading into the Boxing Day Test.
Root has copped much of the spotlight after England sunk 2-0 down in the Ashes series, drawing criticism from the likes of ex-Australian captains Ricky Ponting and Ian Chappell.
Of note was his admission that his quicks bowled too short in the first innings in Adelaide, to which Ponting asked why Root was skipper if he couldn’t change their lengths during the innings.
A defiant Root insisted on Friday he was not feeling pressure on his future as captain ahead of the third Test at the MCG, where England must win to retain hope of regaining the urn.
“The only thing I am worried about is winning this week,” Root said.
“Starting well and making sure we get that first hour right. It’s hard to look beyond that at the minute.
“(With) external comments (like Ponting’s), they are entitled to their opinion.
“But ultimately we have to look after our own house and make sure that as a group we’re doing what we need to do. It doesn’t faze me.”
Root was also adamant that he and his bowlers had not split over the issue of lengths.
Further questions were asked when Stuart Broad claimed in a newspaper column that bowling economy rates would have “gone through the roof” if they had bowled fuller on an Adelaide Oval pitch offering little movement.
“We all know what is required,” Root said.
“That art of trying to take 10 wickets is to try and build pressure … through keeping the scoreboard quiet.
“But also being brave enough to try and hit lengths that will take wickets and create chances.
“I do think on occasions we got that slightly wrong.
“It’s not something you can fault our bowlers on too often because they are exceptional.
“I was asked some direct questions after the game about our length and I answered them.
“If you had asked me about our batting I would have said something similar. That’s just where we are as a team.”
Ponting’s criticism included questioning whether Root was able to stand up to the experience of veteran pacemen Broad and James Anderson on the topic of strategy and bowling lengths.
“It’s working alongside them, it’s not a dictatorship,” Root said.
“(It’s) making sure together we are happy with how things are going. Every now and then we don’t agree with everything, that’s fine.
“Ultimately it’s about coming together to try and get the results we want. Unfortunately in the last game that didn’t go our way.
“Before play we speak generally about how we want to go about things and how we want to bowl.
“I like to give our senior bowlers that responsibility. They have over 300 Test matches and 100 wickets between them, they know what they are doing.”