'Madness': England questioned over 'crazy' cricket decision

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·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
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  • Usman Khawaja
    Usman Khawaja
    Australian cricketer
  • Joe Root
    Joe Root
    English cricketer (born 1990)
  • Mark Wood
    Mark Wood
    English cricketer (born 1990)
Mark Wood (pictured right) celebrating a wicket and (pictured left) Usman Khawaja raising his bat after a century.
Former players have questioned Joe Root's tactics in bowling Mark Wood (pictured right) despite Australia heading for a declaration after Usman Khawaja's (pictured left) century. (Getty Images)

Former players have once again questioned Joe Root's tactics as hopes of an England win faded on Day Four of the SCG Test.

Khawaja's unbeaten 101 on Saturday made his dream recall all the more memorable, marking the 24th time an Australian man has scored two centuries in a Test.

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England resumed at 0-30 on the final day of the fourth Ashes Test, having been set a target of 388 for victory.

Scott Boland continued his fairytale series after taking the opening wicket of the day.

However, following Day Four, former England stars Mark Butcher and Stephen Harmison took aim at Root for using pace bowler Mark Wood in the dying embers of the Aussie innings.

Australia were edging closer to an impeding declaration as clouds gathered over the SCG on Day Four.

However, Root opted to continue with Wood on his 15th over of his fifth spell.

This drew the ire of Butcher who claimed the tactic was not going to help England in the long-run.

"I think this is crazy, Mark Wood hurtling in here, I really do,” Butcher said on BT Sport commentary.

Mark Wood (pictured) reacts towards the crowd after stopping a boundary in the field during day four of the Fourth Test Match in the Ashes series.
Mark Wood (pictured) reacts towards the crowd after stopping a boundary in the field during day four of the Fourth Test Match in the Ashes series. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

“He’s not exactly been less expensive than Jack Leach was, and the risk of damaging him before the final Test match at Hobart, bowling futile overs at the back-end of this innings is just madness to me.”

Harmison was just as critical of the tactics of Root and said Wood needed to play in Hobart.

“We’ve talked about Joe’s captaincy and fielding positions and things that have been labelled at Joe, and I’ve stuck up for him a little bit.

“You talk about fielding positions for Leach, it’s about how the bowler bowls. But some decisions are baffling, and to have your strike bowler bowling overs when they’re setting up a declaration, when they’ve got a bit of an injury track record and background anyway, I just think it’s madness. 

"We can’t go to Hobart and compete unless we’ve got Mark Wood in the side.”

The comments come as Wood has received widespread praise for his role in the England line-up during a dismal tour for the visitors.

Usman Khawaja shines at SCG

Khawaja scored 137 on Thursday, having entered the fray at 3-117 and left shortly before Pat Cummins declared at 8-416.

On Saturday, the left-hander's class and Cummins' declaration at 6-265 further demoralised an attack weakened by Ben Stokes' inability to bowl because of a side injury.

Some areas of the pitch are misbehaving, with several batters having copped painful blows to the gloves.

But Khawaja, having quickly moved the game along in style after being summoned to the middle at 3-68, expects his attack will need to work overtime to secure a 4-0 lead in the five-Test series.

"Fingers crossed we get some good weather because we probably need all those 98 overs that we have," the 35-year-old said.

"It's going to be a bit of a grind.

"I'd be surprised if they don't try to go for the total."

with AAP

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