'Intriguing': Images expose England's bizarre Ashes training act

·4-min read
Seen here, England's Rory Burns bats in the nets on one leg during an England practice session.
Rory Burns could be seen batting in the nets on one leg during a curious England practice drill. Pic: Twitter/Getty

England are seemingly intent on doing whatever it takes to arrest their Ashes slump and somehow find a way to get themselves back into the series during the Boxing Day Test.

The tourists this week revealed details of some "brutally honest" discussions the squad had to try and get to the bottom of their struggles against Australia during the first two Tests of the five-match series.

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Chasing history as just the second team to come back from 2-0 down to win a five-Test series, England are hoping to channel some of Aussie legend Don Bradman's heroics ahead of a make-or-break match at the MCG.

Bradman scored 270, 212 and 169 in Australia's revival as the master batter saved the 1936-37 series for his men.

'The Don' famously used to hit balls against a brick wall over and over again, but even the Aussie great might have been left scratching his head at a tactic England have been employing in their net sessions.

With both England openers struggling for runs so far this series, observers were a little surprised at the sight of Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed both batting on one leg, and even only using one arm during a practice session on Christmas Eve in Melbourne.

“This was quite intriguing today,” cricket journalist Melinda Farrell tweeted.

“Burns batting on one leg, flamingo style. Wondered if it was about balance or his front foot. Then Hameed was doing it. Then Hameed was doing one leg & one hand, his bottom hand.”

Root had also been forced to get creative a day earlier as images of him batting with a fourth stump also made headlines.

The England skipper could be seen studying the line and length of deliveries in his net session, after the team had spoken of the importance of knowing when to leave certain deliveries.

England will need Root - as the team's best batter by some stretch - to produce something special at the MCG if they want to maintain any hope of reclaiming the Ashes.

Anything short of victory for the tourists will see Australia retain the urn but the England skipper is tipping his men to bounce back in Melbourne.

Joe Root confident of England bounce back

"I expect a response from our players and I would like to bring a nice Christmas present home for everyone who stays up," Root said.

"I feel in a really good place with my batting. I feel confident I can, in these next three games, bang out a hundred in these conditions.

"I know that's a brave thing to say but my conversion rate, this year, it's not been an issue at all.

"I feel like I have managed that well and have an understanding of how I want to score my runs.

"There's clarity there, I just need to keep putting myself in those positions, just have the bit between my teeth, (make it) 'over my dead body'."

Root has enjoyed a record-breaking 2021, with his haul of 1,630 Test runs placing him in uncharted territory among Englishmen and fourth on the all-time list over a calendar year.

Pictured here, England captain Joe Root trains in the nets with a fourth stump.
England captain Joe Root trained in the nets with a fourth stump to help him practice leaving deliveries. Pic: Getty/Twitter

He has scored six centuries in that time, but scores of 89 and 62 in the first two Tests mean he now has eight unconverted 50s on Australian soil.

Boxing Day would be the perfect stage, and Root could also have the added bonus of reclaiming the world No.1 spot from Australian counterpart Marnus Labuschagne, who leapfrogged him last week.

England are expected to make at least three changes with Zak Crawley likely to open in place of Rory Burns, while Ollie Pope and Chris Woakes could be replaced by Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood.

A fourth change could come if the pitch is judged to suit spinner Jack Leach, while Jos Buttler is expected to lose the gloves but stay in the XI after his fighting fourth-innings knock in Adelaide.

with AAP

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