Top-order batsman Dawid Malan praises skipper and partner Joe for steering England fightback after putting on an unbeaten 159-run stand
England skipper Joe Root in full flow at the Gabba, Brisbane, yesterday. Pics/AP; PTI
Joe Root set a record for most runs in a calendar year by an England Test batter and shared an unbroken 159-run stand with Dawid Malan on Friday to lead a rally in the Ashes series opener against Australia. Root was unbeaten on 86 and Malan was 80 not out when England reached 220-2 at stumps on Day Three. The England skipper has 1,541 runs so far in 2021, beating Michael Vaughan’s record of 1,481 runs in 2002. Mohammad Yousuf holds the Test record with his 1,788 runs in 11 matches for Pakistan in 2006.
England is still 58 runs behind. But after being dismissed for 147 on Day One and conceding a 278-run first-innings deficit, the third-wicket pair finally gave England a session of dominance. Root faced 158 deliveries, hit 10 boundaries and was one run shy of his highest previous score in an Ashes Down Under. Malan faced 177 deliveries as the pair got through almost two full sessions.
Malan said the only way for England to go forward was to forget the first innings, not be “sitting ducks” and just take the attack back to the Australian bowlers. But he said the job was only half done, and England needed at least another 250-300 runs to pressure on Australia.
With Root still there, it’s possible. “He seems to somehow find a way of putting the pressure back on the bowlers,” Malan said. “It’s great signs for us as a team that Joe is playing well out here and leading from the front.” Australia, on Friday, resumed at 343-7 and added 82 for the loss three wickets in the morning session, with Travis Head out for 152 by Mark Wood to end the innings at 425.
Thought I’d never play Test cricket for England again: Malan
England No.3 Dawid Malan admitted on Friday that he thought his Test cricket career was over before his recall to the team earlier this year. “Test cricket is the pinnacle for me,” he said. “You can do as well as you want in T20 or 50-over cricket, but you are judged by your Test career at the end of it.
“So to come to Australia—to come on these bouncy wickets against these fast bowlers, that’s the test, especially for us in an Ashes series.” Malan played 14 Tests in 2017 and 2018, but did not play any more until being recalled against India in August this year. “I thought I would never play another Test again,” he conceded.
England 147 & 220-2 (J Root 86*, D Malan 80*) v Australia 425 (T Head 152, D Warner 94, M Labuschagne 74, M Starc 35; O Robinson 3-58, M Wood 3-85, C Woakes 2-76)