Ashes: Joe Root has been soft and looks like a little boy - Ricky Ponting

England captain Joe Root walks off after being dismissed at Perth
England captain Joe Root's highest score in six innings in this series is 67
Australia v England, fourth Ashes Test
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground Dates: 26-30 December (23:30 GMT, 25 December)
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

England captain Joe Root looks like a "little boy" and has been a "bit soft" during the Ashes defeat, says former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting.

The hosts take a unassailable 3-0 lead into the fourth Test in Melbourne starting on Boxing Day.

Root, 26, averages 29.33 with the bat, while off-field incidents have been a feature of England's tour.

"Those things show a complete lack of respect for him as captain," said 43-year-old Ponting.

England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow "headbutted" Australia's Cameron Bancroft in a bar in October, while this month England Lions batsman Ben Duckett was suspended for pouring a drink over England bowler James Anderson.

Ponting said England need Root to "step up big time" and criticised him for being "too shy" in his post-match news conferences.

"The way he answered a lot of the questions after the game last week seemed almost like a little boy," said Ponting, who captained Australia in 77 of his 168 Tests between 1995 and 2012.

"You need to be more than that as a leader, especially when things aren't going well. It just looks like it has been a little bit soft."

England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow defended his captain Root, responding to Ponting's criticism on Saturday.

"Let's not forget that he hasn't been in the job for a year yet," he told BBC Sport.

"It's a learning process. He hasn't gone quiet, or anything like that. He's still the normal, cheeky, chirpy Rooty and that is what makes him the fantastic batsman that he is."

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Australia won by 10 wickets in Brisbane, 120 runs in Adelaide and an innings and 41 runs in Perth, after which Root said England "haven't been completely outplayed".

England opener Mark Stoneman said this week there was no gulf between the sides.

Ponting said he was "not seeing that at all" as England seek to avoid a second consecutive whitewash in Australia.

"It doesn't add up with a team that has been ultra-competitive and just not taken the little opportunities," he said.

"They have been completely blown away. Unless you can find some drastic ways to get better, I'm not sure how they are going to improve."

Root, ranked the fifth best batsman in the world, has scored only 176 runs compared to Australia captain Steve Smith's 426, which includes a double century in Perth.

Root, who was caught down the leg side for 20 in the first innings at the Waca and edged a loose drive to slip to fall for 14 in the second, said captaincy is not affecting his batting.

But Ponting said: "Look at some of the shots he's played. It looks as though something is playing on his mind a little bit.

"They are not the shots you would expect from one of the best players in the world, and certainly not someone trying to lead from the front."

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