5 Jan 2018

Root misses another ton as England stumble late

6:32 am on 5 January 2018

Joe Root's failure to turn a fourth Ashes half-century into a hundred this summer continued to dog England's batting as they finished at 5-233 on the opening day of the fifth Test in Sydney.

England captain Joe Root.

England captain Joe Root. Photo: Photosport

Four years after he was dropped for the SCG Test in England's 5-0 humiliation in 2013-14, Root appeared set to post his first century of the tour on the ground on Thursday before he was dismissed in the penultimate over of the day by Mitchell Starc.

After having sent the first two deliveries with the second new-ball to the boundary - albeit the second via an inside edge - Root was 17 short of his century.

But when he clipped Starc to a diving Mitchell Marsh at forward square leg the next ball, he was out for 83 and England's curse had set in.

On 15 occasions this summer a visitor has reached 50. But only three times has that been turned into triple figures.

In comparison, Australians have reached 50 just as many times but for six centuries.

Root's opposing captain - Steve Smith - has hit three of those tons.

Roots failure to convert is a problem that has been systematic throughout his career. He has turned just 26 per cent of his scores above 50s into hundreds.

"The day will come when he does start converting them as well as Steve Smith does or the other greats have done," England's Dawid Malan said.

"I think no matter who you are you want to be scoring hundreds.

"I think the number of 50s Joe scores I think in his own mind he would probably be disappointed he doesn't convert more.

"When that day does happen it will be scary to see how good he can be and how high his average can jump to."

The England captain's dismissal opened the door for wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow to be caught behind for five the following over off Josh Hazlewood, off what was ultimately the last ball of the day.

Root had earlier combined for a 133-run fourth-wicket partnership with Malan, who went to stumps at 55 not out.

Malan spent 42 minutes stuck on 16 after tea, but provided the perfect rear- guard for Root even as the Aussies coughed up two chances - in the form of a Steve Smith drop and missed run out - to dismiss him.

But the No.5 must now contend with England's long tail, with the struggling Moeen Ali due in on Friday morning.

"I think it sums up where we've been this tour," Malan said.

"We've been on top for so long in games and we make one or two mistakes and we let the Aussies back.

"To be five-down now after hard work we've put in today is obviously not ideal."