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Overton out of England quest to find pride in Australia Ashes debacle

media England skipper Joe Root has lost the Ashes trophy and must lead his side in the last two Tests against Australia in the hope of restoring a modicum of pride. Reuters/David Gray

England’s hopes of restoring some pride in the Ashes series against Australia suffered a setback on Sunday when fast bowler Craig Overton was ruled out of the fourth Test in Melbourne with a rib injury. The 23-year-old will be replaced by either Tom Curran or Mark Wood.

Overton made his Test debut in the second Test in Adelaide. He claimed the wicket o the Australia skipper Steve Smith as England slumped to a 120 run defeat.

That left England 2-0 down after their 10 wicket loss in the first Test in Brisbane. Worse followed in Perth. The tourists scored just over 400 in their first innings but sill contrived to lose the Test by an innings and 41 runs.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting described the England skipper Joe Root as a little boy who has been a bit soft during the series.

But Root has been let down by several senior players, notably Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali.

Cook, who became the first Englishman to play 150 Tests during the series, has scored  83 runs in six innings, while Root has two half-centuries but only a total of 176 runs at an average of 29.33.

England’s wicketkeeper, Jonny Bairstow, called on his teammates to rally behind their skipper. "We don't just owe the captain, we owe ourselves as well," Bairstow said. "We've got to go out there and try and win both of these Test matches."

But that goal may be difficult to achieve. Smith has been leading his side from the front. He scored a Test-best 239 in the third Test and is averaging 142 for the series.

Smith's form has propelled him into rarefied company. He occupies joint second position in the ICC's all-time rankings list along with England's Len Hutton and behind only the legendary Don Bradman.

Smith has a career average of 62.32 from 59 Tests, second only to Bradman's pinnacle 99.94.

The 28-year-old is also aiming for his fourth consecutive Melbourne Test century after hundreds against Pakistan, the West Indies and India in the last three Tests which started on 26 December.





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