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The Ashes: Australia 4 England 0

PUBLISHED: 07:57 08 January 2018

England's Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow walk off at lunch during day five of the Ashes Test match at Sydney Cricket Ground.

England's Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow walk off at lunch during day five of the Ashes Test match at Sydney Cricket Ground.

PA Wire/PA Images

Joe Root’s bravery was in vain as England slid to an innings & 123-run defeat in the final Test to complete their miserable Ashes campaign as 4-0 losers.

Root spent much of the morning in hospital suffering the effects of severe dehydration and was unable to rejoin his team’s improbable rearguard at the SCG as they resumed on 93-4 – still 210 runs short of making Australia bat again.

The England captain did continue his innings an hour later, after his replacement Moeen Ali was dismissed, but could not do so again following the lunch break as the tourists subsided in his absence to Pat Cummins (4-39) and finished 180 all out.

While Root (58 retired ill) remained off the pitch as symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting returned, England predictably could not hold off the inevitable for long, as the mis-match was concluded by mid-afternoon.

The circumstances of their failed last stand were regrettable yet uncomfortably appropriate for a tour beset by an inability to compete with Australia in the middle and any number of unhelpful off-the-pitch distractions over the past two-and-a-half months.

Moeen survived for almost an hour in Root’s initial absence until he fell – as he has almost without exception throughout the series – to his opposite number Nathan Lyon (3-54).

This time, the seventh in ninth innings, he pushed forward defensively but missed and was lbw.

Root strode out, or rather in his compromised circumstances shuffled a little, to a standing ovation from supporters of all persuasions as they showed their admiration for the Yorkshireman’s tenacity.

He had scampered every one of his hard-earned 42 runs in near city-record 47-degree heat the previous day, although England were at pains to stress the captain’s subsequent viral illness was in no way connected to that doubtless exhausting experience.

Either way, Root was soon rewarded on his return with his first boundary – a full ball from Mitchell Starc squeezed wide of gully to bring up a 130-ball half-century.

At lunch, with Root and Jonny Bairstow established again together, there was just a sliver of realistic belief that England could perhaps pull off a remarkable stalemate.

The illusion was broken, though, before any Englishman took guard for the second session – because neither of the combatants was Root, so washed out back in the dressing-room that he was barely able to stay awake to watch the final acts out in the middle.

Bairstow had kept out 142 balls for his determined 38 only to be pinnned lbw by Cummins, who then wasted little time bouncing out Stuart Broad and Mason Crane on his way to an eight-wicket match haul on his home ground.

Josh Hazlewood administered what became the final blow of an often hugely one-sided series when James Anderson was caught behind fencing at a short ball, and Root wisely decided discretion was a better option than any further futile valour.

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