Melbourne: England was again denied a win in their troubled Ashes series in Melbourne on Saturday but skipper Joe Root says it is all eyes on a face-saving win in the final Test in Sydney.
The tourists were in the box seat for much of the Boxing Day Test, bowling out Australia for a below-par 327 on an unresponsive MCG pitch and then taking a 164-run innings lead on the back of Alastair Cook’s herculean unbeaten 244.
It was only the mastery of Steve Smith who kept England at bay, batting out the entire last day with an unbeaten 102 for a draw to leave the tourists still without a win in four Tests.
The hosts have already clinched the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series ahead of the fifth Test in Sydney next week.
Root won’t countenance anything but victory in Sydney to finish the Test series, bedevilled by off-field troubles.
“Disappointed that we couldn’t quite crack it open today but we tried absolutely everything and the efforts and work-rates from all the guys was there all day,” Root said.
“I am very proud about the way we went about it. Off three very difficult games and to put in a performance like that is really pleasing and that’s what we’re about as a side.
“That’s a fair reflection of what we are capable of as a team and on a very unresponsive wicket to perform how we did with the ball on the first and second day was outstanding.
“Cookie to go on and make a massive double-hundred like he did was exactly what you’re after following a strong two days with the ball.”
Coming after the crushing disappointment of relinquishing the Ashes in a dispiriting innings defeat in the third Perth Test, Root said his team had showed its character in Melbourne.
“In terms of our squad the character is never something that I question and the way that we apply ourselves and the attitude that we take is always there,” he said.
“They had a lot of disappointment coming away from Perth and you could see the way they went about training that they were desperate to prove a lot of people wrong and make sure we get something good out of this tour.
“That’s the response you want to see from your players,” he added.
“We are a better team than what we’ve played on this trip and that is a benchmark for our side moving forward and try to make sure that we go one better in Sydney and get that win that we want.”