Joe Root praised for playing through pain for England after blows to groin

Joe Root was praised by the bowling coach, Jon Lewis, after the England captain’s day was bookended by blows to his groin. On a painful day in Adelaide for the touring side Root was struck before play by a throw-down from the spin coach, Jeetan Patel, while warming up and was not wearing a box, forcing him to visit hospital for scans.

Although he eventually took the field, further agony followed when the fast bowler Mitchell Starc hit the same part of his body with a ball that jagged off the pitch, forcing a five-minute delay during which the England physio shooed away the Spidercam TV camera and inspected the injury under a towel.

Australia need six wickets on the final day of the second Test to take a 2-0 series lead with England ending the day on 82 for four. Lewis, speaking after Root was out for 24 off what became the final ball of the day, said: “Joe’s a strong leader. He showed a hell of a lot of character to get out there and fight because I know he was pretty sore. Once he was hit again, to stay on, could easily have walked off and had a nightwatchman come in.

“That’s the character of the man and it shows what it means to him to be England captain. He wants to show how hard he’s prepared to fight to get back into the game.”

Asked how Root was after stumps, Lewis replied: “He wasn’t in great shape, so to get another one in there was unfortunate for him. I’ve not inspected it myself but he will be OK in the long run.”

England captain Joe Root awaits treatment during the second Ashes Test in Adelaide
England captain Joe Root awaits treatment during the second Ashes Test in Adelaide. Photograph: Peter Mundy/Speed Media/Shutterstock

Radio coverage of the Ashes, meanwhile, was thrown into turmoil on the fourth day after a member of BBC’s Test Match Special production team tested positive for Covid-19. South Australia’s health regulations forced the entire TMS crew into isolation as close contacts, while a crossover of talent with the local broadcaster ABC similarly led to their commentary box being empty for all three sessions on Sunday.

The upshot was the ABC scrambling to lay on a backup service with ball-by-ball commentary provided remotely. Mitchell Johnson, the former Australia fast bowler who terrorised England during the 2013-14 whitewash, was among those who deputised, providing expert analysis from 1,600 miles away in Perth.

The BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew, Steven Finn, Glenn McGrath, Jim Maxwell and Isa Guha were among the broadcasters unable to work, although the latter eventually arrived at the ground later in the day to commentate for the TV rights holder Fox after undergoing a fast-tracked test.

A second positive case later emerged among the Fox production team, forcing the broadcaster to shut down the studio it uses for technical analysis – but its commentary box was unaffected by this development.

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It remains to be seen whether TMS will be affected come the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. However the issue on Sunday represents the latest interruption caused by the virus after Pat Cummins, Australia’s captain, was forced to miss this game after finding himself the close contact of a positive case last Wednesday.

Cummins is expected to return for the third Test although players on both sides are due to be subjected to a more stringent bubble for the next two fixtures because of the rising number of cases in Victoria and New South Wales.

These include socialising in smaller groups off the field, dining outdoors and no direct interaction with the public. Cricket Australia are looking to avoid even tighter restrictions as the sport tries to balance Covid safety with mental health.

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