JOE ROOT will fly to Perth on Thursday satisfied England can inflict some critical harm on Australia over the following month.
Root and his gamers have proven the Aussies are weak and, when positioned beneath stress, develop into frazzled and make panicky choices.
It has despatched a surge of self-belief coursing via the England dressing-room.
When England plunged to 142-7 on day three of the Second Check, they have been watching defeat by a monumental and embarrassing margin.
However, over the following 27 hours, England reworked the match with decided tail-end batting, impressed swing bowling and a promising run chase.
The Aussies – and skipper Steve Smith particularly – all of the sudden discovered the tide of momentum turning towards them. They usually didn’t prefer it.
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Smith refused to enforce the follow-on, failed with the bat, burned two DRS reviews in two overs and was mocked by hundreds of Barmy Army battalions who made the ‘T’ review signal every time the ball struck the pad.
And James Anderson is convinced the pre-pledged sledging assault by him and Stuart Broad on Smith on day one had the desired effect.
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Anderson explained: “Their players have been fairly quiet for most of the game, surprisingly. I think having words with Steve Smith did work because we got him out quite cheaply.
“I think picking the right time to do something like that, trying to get him out of his bubble and unsettle him is a good thing. Steve seemed more interested than having a chat with me and Stuart than focusing on his job so that’s a job well done by us.”
The England renaissance started with a 66-run partnership between Chris Woakes and debutant Craig Overton, continued with Anderson’s swing bowling brilliance under lights and his first five-for haul in Australia.
Then came a battling innings by Root as England set off in pursuit of an unlikely target of 354 for victory.
In the First Test, England turned a close match for three days into a hammering by ten wickets. Here, they turned what threatened to be a rout into a close match.
Anderson added: “The way we’ve come back in this match shows we can compete with Australia, we can cause them problems both with bat and ball.
“Now it’s a case of doing it for long periods. We can’t play well for a day here or there in a five-day Test match, that’s not going to win you a series. If we can do it more consistently, we can definitely compete with Australia.
“We have to learn from the positions we get ourselves in. We were in a strong position several times in Brisbane and didn’t capitalise.
“We were way behind the game here for the first two-and-a-half days and we’ve shown that’s not a fair reflection of how good we are as a team.”
The way the balance of power shifted caused doubts and self-examination in the Aussie camp.
Fast bowling coach David Saker worked with England for five years but is now in the dressing-room of his native nation.
Saker admitted: “In hindsight, perhaps we got the follow-on decision wrong because it meant we didn’t get a chance to bowl with the new ball under lights.
“Jimmy bowled particularly well, he is so skilful and is magnificent. But we have to get better when the ball is moving, without a doubt, whether it is swing or spin.
“The whole sledging talk disappointments me because it takes away from what a great Ashes series it is. I know a lot goes on in the middle, it has always happened but wasn’t reported as much in years gone by. Now stump mics have come in and changed things.
“I don’t think there’s bad feeling between the teams. They know each other well through franchise and county cricket, they are quite friendly with each other. But Ashes series are tight and tough and that’s great to see.”
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