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Root can lead from the front as England try to avoid whitewash

| 01.01.2014

England’s woeful batting performances have been at the heart of what has been a dismal Ashes campaign but Joe Root can show the way forward in Sydney.

The Yorkshire batsmen, who has been shunted up and down the batting order this winter, showed everyone what he can do with a superb rearguard action in the second innings at Adelaide, scoring a spirited 87 against the excellent Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris.

And with Michael Carberry’s demise at the top of the order – the Hampshire batter scored 12 runs from 81 balls in a two hour vigil at the MCG – now is the time for England to restore Root alongside captain Alastair Cook, according to former England captain Alec Stewart.

“If they [the selectors] are already thinking of going in a different direction against Sri Lanka in June then they should move Joe Root back up to open, allowing Ian Bell to go in at three and Gary Ballance to come into the middle order,” he told BBC Sport.

Last summer, Root was promoted to open England’s innings and after a maiden Ashes Test hundred at Lords many predicted a long and prosperous career in the position.

Injury and illness forced England into a re-shuffle but now is the time to return the Yorkshireman to a position he fills for his county.

At 9/2 Root could prove to be the value to top score for England in the first innings at Sydney, especially if he comes in at number one or two.

And with Andy Flower insisting he is motivated at building a new England side and not afraid to ring the changes, Root could expect a new batting ally in Sydney.

Gary Ballance has so far not faced the music on this tour but he can expect to get his chance in the middle-order if Root resumes his opening role.

Ballance was earmarked for the number six role at the start of the series but Carberry’s performances in the warm-up games forced England into a re-think.

But now the Zimbabwe-born star, who is 6/1 to make his mark and outscore his England team-mates in the first innings of the Fifth Test, will get his chance as England usher in a new era and try to avoid a second whitewash to Australia in seven years in the process.

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Oliver Yew