England need to follow Joe Root example

He may only be 22, but Joe Root is setting an example to his England teammates in Australia, as Sports Mole finds out.

Adelaide was supposed to be England's pitch. The wicket not only suited their bowlers, but also their batsmen. What's more, there was no way that Australia's Mitchell Johnson was going to reproduce his heroics from Brisbane.

After just under five days of Test cricket, though, that school of thought was thrown to the dogs.

In their first innings, England were bowled out for 172 runs, having seen the Aussies declare on 570. Meanwhile, Johnson left the field with figures of 7-40 from his 17.2 overs.

The tourists may have put up some resistance during the second innings - they went beyond the 200-mark for the first time at least - but ultimately the victory target of 570 was insurmountable, with Alastair Cook's men eventually falling some 218 runs short.

Mitchell Johnson of Australia celebrates winning the second test during day five of Second Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval on December 9, 2013© Getty Images

The Ashes may be slipping away, but there were perhaps glimmers of hope to clutch on to as the two rivals head to Perth.

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior had been painfully out of touch ever since New Zealand arrived in England back in May. His highest score since then was 31, but a knock of 69 will have lifted both his spirit and confidence.

Joe Root, though, was the shining beacon. He came in for his Test debut in December 2012 and batted at six. Since then, he has opened, moved back down to six and, following Jonathan Trott's recent return home with a stress-related illness, the Yorkshireman was promoted to number three.

The 22-year-old was dismissed in the first innings in Brisbane by Johnson, but the reaction to his error there and the first innings in Adelaide has been an example for all of his teammates to follow.

England's Joe Root makes his half century during the third day of the fifth Ashes cricket test match between England and Australia at the Oval in London on August 23, 2013© Getty Images

He learnt from his mistakes, left the short ball alone and only played deliveries that were going to cannon into his stumps. The hook, pull and slog sweep shots were nowhere to be seen. He eventually fell to the spin of Nathan Lyon, but his 87 runs in four hours and 29 minutes at the crease vindicated the selectors in their decision to elevate him and not Ian Bell.

If England are to make history in retaining the urn, now is the time for his teammates to follow suit.

Take Kevin Pietersen, for example. The 33-year-old can win a Test on his own, but he can also go a long way to losing one. He made 57 runs from the two innings and on both occasions his wicket was claimed by two strikingly similar balls from Peter Siddle. Incidentally, the Australian has now removed Pietersen nine times, more than any other bowler. Then we have skipper Cook, who is struggling to deal with the fuller delivery.

In total, 21 of England's 40 wickets in Adelaide went to hook shots. Add to that the fact that nine batsmen were caught out during the second innings, as well as the argument that none of the 10 deliveries that dismissed them were actually hitting the stumps, it's clear that shot selection is proving to be the Achilles heel.

The third Test gets underway at The WACA on Friday, leaving England just four days to right their wrongs with the willow in hand. Lose in Perth and Australia will regain The Ashes. No pressure.

Mitchell Johnson of Australia celebrates after dismissing Joe Root of England during day two of the First Ashes Test match between Australia and England at The Gabba on November 22, 2013
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