Ashes 2019: Rory Burns & Joe Root show the way - but England face huge battle

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Highlights: England lose late wickets after Root & Burns' 141-run stand

Rory Burns and Joe Root played really brave, disciplined innings and have shown England the way to save the Ashes.

But for all that hard work, those late three wickets demonstrated how in Test cricket you can just go bang, bang, bang and the game is turned on its head.

Suddenly from looking comfortable and secure, England fell to 200-5 and are now up against it to avoid the follow-on in the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

They need 98 more runs to do it and have got to get there, regardless of what Australia's tactics might be. They have to try and keep Australia out in the field for as long as possible.

I would be surprised if Australia do enforce the follow-on should England fail to reach 298. They will bat on, put some more wear on the pitch, let their bowlers have a rest and then give themselves four sessions to bowl England out.

Even if England do sneak past the follow-on but get bowled out fairly cheaply afterwards, that gives Australia a huge lead and the opportunity to put plenty of men round the bat for Nathan Lyon on a turning pitch on days four and five.

Simply put, England find themselves in a massive battle. At some point on Saturday, Australia could declare in their second innings and then set about taking the 10 wickets they need to retain the Ashes.

The rest of England's batsmen have the perfect example to follow in the way Burns and Root played.

Burns really does believe now that he's good enough at this level. That is a key point for anyone coming in to Test cricket because you start off not knowing and wondering whether you will belong.

People have talked about Burns' quirky technique, with his bat pointing towards gully in his backlift, but Steve Smith has a quirky technique and he's not too bad.

You can be unique and if it works for you, then let it work.

It works for Burns - he may go through patches where he struggles because of that quirkiness but he's scored over 1,000 County Championship runs for the past five seasons, he's played long enough to deal with that.

He has ignored all the talk about his technique, got on and batted. He is gutsy and was certainly brave against the short ball in his 81 - he only took one on and that was when there was only one man back and it was a safe shot.

As soon as Australia put two men back, he ducked and swayed instead - that shows he's learning quickly because he had been out hooking a couple of times before this series.

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Burns out for 'gutsy' 81

Root fought through a painful innings for 71 - he was hit all over his legs and had his box smashed.

When I spoke to him the day before this match he said he'd been hammered on his right thigh in the nets so he's clearly got a few bruises, which perhaps unsettled him a bit.

But he showed the way - what England must not do now is fail to show that same fight, discipline and determination.

Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow have to bat like that for as long as possible on Saturday when they resume their innings.

So far, England have given it their all. Though how do you assess Jason Roy? It's so difficult.

He has been moved to number four to protect him from the new ball and he came in in the perfect scenario - actually in at five, facing a 64-over-old ball and tiring bowlers.

He then played a couple of nice strokes but when he's bowled by that ball you're left asking, 'Where was his front foot?'

If he's going to miss that ball then he really should have been out lbw but it just went straight through again.

That big drive is his game - he's never batted longer than three and a half hours in a match. Perhaps England are asking too much of him to make this step up.

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'Middle stump is out of the ground' - Roy bowled by Hazlewood

England are facing a magnificent Australia pace attack too.

Pat Cummins bowled an absolutely fantastic spell - those 10 overs were one of the spells of the series.

He was absolutely brilliant, totally relentless and deserved wickets. Pace, accuracy, hostility - he was tireless and to get nothing was so unfair.

Then Josh Hazlewood comes on and gets three quick wickets. That's typical of a fast bowler's lot, it will go the other way on another day.

Meanwhile, Mitchell Starc was as we expected - he bowled a fair few boundary balls but at searing pace.

Lyon bowled too short, was not at his best and the crowd seemed to be getting to him after his mishap at Headingley. But he still has a turning pitch to play with in the rest of this match.

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Hazlewood pins Root lbw for 71

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Jack Skelton

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