MELBOURNE: David Warner posted a century after a no-ball reprieve and skipper Steve Smith was on track for four straight Boxing Day tons as Australia made a solid start to the fourth Ashes test against England on Tuesday.
Warner received a massive let-off on 99 to claim his 21st test hundred as an Australia side chasing a series whitewash took full advantage of winning the toss on an unresponsive Melbourne Cricket Ground drop-in pitch.
Smith, who hasn’t been dismissed in a Melbourne test match since Boxing Day 2014, was still batting at the close on 65 with Shaun Marsh not out 31 and Australia 244 for three.
Root has been in the eye of the storm over the tourists underwhelming efforts with former Australia captain Ricky Ponting deriding him as a “little boy” who has been a “bit soft” during the one-sided series.
Several other under-performing senior players, notably Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali, have also been under the gun with some critics calling for their axing.
England are more likely to call up either Tom Curran or Mark Wood for injured paceman Craig Overton who is in doubt with a cracked rib, while young leg-spinner Mason Crane is pushing for a Test debut.
England and Wales Cricket Board chief Tom Harrison typified the feelings inside the team when he said this week: “I don’t think this is the moment for rash decisions.”
Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow has called on his teammates to rally behind their under-fire skipper.
“We don’t just owe him (Root), we owe ourselves as well,” Bairstow said. “We’ve got to go out there and try and win both of these Test matches.”