Joe Root flies to Adelaide on Monday with his lifetime ambition of becoming an Ashes winning England captain on the line.
Only Len Hutton has managed to lead an England team to victory in Australia after losing in Brisbane, which is a gloomy thought given it happened 67 years ago, but perhaps there is hope too given Root’s line of succession as a Yorkshire great.
Recent history also tells us that if Australia win in Adelaide - where they skittled India for 36 last year - their momentum will be unstoppable.
This is Root’s third Ashes series as captain and likely to be his last. His dream of emulating Michael Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook by lifting the urn will be decided next week. Lose there and it is over.
The defeat at the Gabba, confirmed 20 minutes after lunch when Marcus Harris drove Mark Wood for four, was England’s seventh loss in ten Tests and tenth in 11 in Australia. It preserved Australia’s unbeaten run in Brisbane against England since 1986-87 and restored the Gabbatoir’s reputation as a bloody arena for touring teams.
Root said his England side are good at bouncing back but there is diminishing evidence of that in 2021. Their batting has constantly fallen short against India, New Zealand and now Australia. Root’s average is 64 in this record breaking year for him but he has scored more than a 1000 runs more than the next player on the list, Rory Burns. Dawid Malan is the only other batsman to average more than 29.
England managed to win just two sessions of the Gabba Test and pieced together only one partnership above 52 - the 162 between Malan and Root that proved a false dawn. Once that was ended in the fourth over of the restart, the innings folded.