Cricket – Bairstow stands up for Root

England wicket keeper Jonny Bairstow has defended his under-fire captain Joe Root who has been savaged in the media following the loss of The Ashes.

Australia have regained the little urn by winning the first three Tests against England and are 8/15 to beat the tourists in the fourth Test in Melbourne.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has called on Root to “step up big time” and stop looking like a “little boy” but Bairstow believes such comments are unfair.

He said: “We don’t just owe him [Root]; we owe ourselves as well. You don’t come away and work as hard as we’ve worked to get nothing out of a tour.

“You can talk as much as you want to talk about the whitewash – but in our minds, it’s not on the agenda. ‘In our eyes it’s (now) a two-Test series. Let’s try to put things right that we haven’t previously – start with a clean slate.”

Bairstow has also had kind words for Stuart Broad who struggled in the first three Tests in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.

The Yorkshireman added: “Naturally, people will pick things apart when they aren’t going well. To pick apart someone’s technique, their bowling stats because of one or two games – having played more than 100 Test matches – I think is pretty tough.”

Bairstow is 6/1 to be England’s top batsman in their first innings in the fourth Test while Australia are available at 1/1 to win the series 5-0.

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