The Ashes: England must maintain positive batting approach, says Rob Key | Cricket News

“I will be in the minority, but I believe that the answer cannot only be to leave the ball better and block it for life”; Rob Key urged England to maintain a positive approach with the bat in the second inning after another dip in the third Ashes Test

Last updated: 26/12/21 12:51

Joe Root played smoothly but fell short after reaching his half-century in Melbourne

Joe Root played smoothly but fell short after reaching his half-century in Melbourne

Rob Key urged England’s hitters to fight and play positively despite a bad start to the third Ashes Test.

Joe Root’s side were beaten for 185 on the first day of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne before Australia hit 61-1 in stumps as England’s already low hopes of regaining the pot were further reduced.

The way some of the older players were sent off, including Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, also sparked criticism, but Key believes they should keep a positive scoring mindset during the second inning.

“It’s really tough for England,” he told Sky Sports. “Joe Root is a great player because he is positive and the answer always seems to be ‘you can have a better start’ but, in the end, if you start, you just have to move on and get a great score.

“He’ll know more than anyone else and no one will be more disappointed than him for not doing it.

“I will be in the minority, but I think the answer cannot just be to let the ball go better and block the life. I think England’s set-up must be strong enough with this.

“They have to do it better, but if you think you can go to Australia and win or come back to an Ashes series defending yourself, I’m sorry but it will just be a slow death.

Angus Fraser says England's central order not scoring decent was a big disappointment in the third Ashes Test

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Angus Fraser says England’s central order not scoring decent was a big disappointment in the third Ashes Test

Angus Fraser says England’s central order not scoring decent was a big disappointment in the third Ashes Test

“A lot of people got carried away when Jos hit for 200 balls thinking it was very good Test cricket. Really? He took 20 and lost. Losing is losing whether you do it with a spare ball or a day.

“Go out there and try to be great. Courage is actually risking failure, looking bad and facing control to try and do something extraordinary.”

Another miserable day for England began with Root losing the draw and Australia choosing to play first on a green surface of the MCG, a decision that only served to highlight the tourists’ mistake at the launch in the first series.

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This meant that the recalled Zak Crawley, about three months after his last competitive appearance, had to face the returning Pat Cummins, the number 1 test pitcher in the world, with the most difficult conditions.

“The first thing is that you knew there was nothing more certain than England would lose that draw – you could have put your life up against a donut to marmalade,” Key said.

“So, they were sent out with Zak Crawley, who has played very little cricket in recent months, and Haseeb Hameed against Pat Cummins and the writing was on the wall.

“It is a team that does not have faith in a team that is overflowing with it, which is not a recipe for a good day.

Zak Crawley was fired for 12 years upon his return to England

Zak Crawley was fired for 12 years upon his return to England

“There is a big difference going from the nets straight to a test match at the MCG, one of the iconic test venues in world cricket. It would always have been tough.

“I think people like Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence wanted to play in the Lions game, but the England management missed the opportunity to let them play and that didn’t make things any easier for someone like Zak.

“When you look back, it doesn’t say you haven’t played in three months, runs are your only currency. It’s very similar to a situation I had years ago, I played in the summer for England, then I was left out and then I’m had to go out to beat in the New Years test in Cape Town when I hadn’t beaten in a real game in six months.

“It’s very difficult, but no one comes to me 20 years or more later and says ‘you’ve been a little exhausted.’ Eventually, you have to go out and try to score points. I’m sure Zak will be better off spending half an hour in the fold than if he didn’t. “

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