Cow Corner

Impressive Root shows senior England players what is required

For Joe Root, this series is representing yet another challenge of his ability to demonstrate maturity and application patently absent from many of his team-mates.

It should not be the case with so many senior England players around him, but the 22-year-old has had to find patience, courage and maturity when it has been sorely lacking from those around him.

Having been asked to open the batting in his maiden Ashes series over the summer and been duly demoted, he has now been instructed to move up again to face the new ball at 'first drop'. Moving around the order like that would be a savagely difficult challenge for an established player with 50 Tests under their belt; for a player of Root's inexperience it almost beggars belief.

But after once again being asked to adopt a new role and adapt to a horrid situation, Root has found a way to come through. To find a response.

The Yorkshireman has been placed in a tremendously tough position - having to lead a beleaguered side of more experienced players against a crashing tide of Australian dominance - yet he has positively thrived under the circumstances.

Root's composed and doughty 87 from four-and-a-half hours and 194 balls was mightily impressive, not just for the talent, technique and skill required, but more strikingly for the all-too-rare show of application and determination from an England player.

It has, truth be told, been a staggeringly hapless showing from the tourists so far in this series: we've seen collapse after collapse, with barely a trace of the resolve and character required to flourish from a position of weakness against an Australia pace attack bristling with confidence and bursting with desire.

England struggled to 247 for six at stumps on day four in Adelaide, in notional pursuit of a world-record Test victory target of 531 after Australia declared on their overnight 132 for three, with only Root's dogged knock to show for another hopelessly inadequate all-round performance.

[Root urges England to show fight and courage]

[Australia close in on victory despite Root resistance]

Root's inspiring resolve was not only demonstrated in his bold innings, but also in his rousing response to an understandably negative line of questioning from reporters in the wake of another desperate day for Alastair Cook's tourists.

"We're in a scrap, we knew that and we knew we'd have to come out fighting and that's what I was trying to do, fight for as long as I could and stay out there for as long as possible," he told Sky Sports.

"We always want to show fight, we pride ourselves on that and obviously so far in this series we've not managed to do that so it's good to have a few guys getting some scores and showing a bit of fight.

"As a team we know we've been underperforming - that's quite evident with the scores we've got - and we're just going to have to make sure we keep fronting up and that we keep trying to challenge ourselves in practice and when we get out there make sure we get in a scrap and do our country proud."

Buzz words though they may be, the language Root used did not belie his general demeanour as he spoke with passion and immense frustration at the way, despite all his best efforts, England remained in an utterly humiliating position.

The way Root has responded to filling in for the sadly-absent Jonathan Trott at number three, ahead of the far more experienced Ian Bell as well as several other candidates, has been hugely impressive and he had to drag himself off the field painfully slowly after he fell an agonising 13 runs short of a deserved century.

While the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad engaged in aimless 'chat' with the Australia pace bowlers, despite their lowly status in the context of the series, Root simply laughed away the hosts' jibes and demonstrated his desire to battle with his batting. His reaction to falling just short of his century spoke volumes of the expectations he has for himself.

If there were any lingering doubts over his prospects at the very highest level of Test cricket, they can surely be swept aside now after Root showed the senior England players around him what was required if the tourists are to haul themselves out of the mire.

Root cannot do much more following his second-innings efforts at the Adelaide Oval but his more established team-mates certainly can. He could be forgiven for feeling both angry and frustrated at how his innings will, in all likelihood, count for so little.

But who knows, maybe the way he applied himself against the remarkably dominant hosts will spur others on to perform better as the series moves to Perth after the match in Adelaide is over.

Even the 22-year-old himself is expecting and demanding much, much more. An Ashes century away from home is surely just around the corner for him, but a resurgence from the other England batsmen appears less certain.

By Dan Quarrell - @Dan_Eurosport