Joe Root's last smile

Looking at England's tour of Australia.

This is Joe Root smiling.

Behind him is Scott Boland, who has just delivered a ball that has run along the ground to hit the stumps. Some deliveries in this match did keep low; this seemed closer to the ground, and more importantly, was the first real straight one.

Coming into this Test, Root had been dismissed caught behind the wicket every time this series.

It's been the biggest narrative, and of course, he is LBW and bowled in this match. I don't know if that is why he smiled, but it was one of those gallows smiles.

I imagine he was thinking it's day three, and a ball just rolled along the ground, so what's left to do but smile? He has been here before. To this Australia.

England was only chasing 271, and they were 68 without losing a wicket in 16 overs. But it was hard to see what would really change that would allow them to score those runs.

Would Bellerive Oval suddenly flatten out? There was one time in the entire match that happened, and it was after an Australian short counter-attack, a damp (then soft) ball combined with England being a bowler down and having to throw the ball to, well, guess, who, Joe Bloody Root.

That was on day one. If that ball had stayed drier, Robinson had been ok and Anderson in the side, then maybe. At the least, they would have been chasing less than 271. But Root's smile proves that alternate reality could not have happened.

Look at this same innings; they finally got their best opening pairing of the series. They used positive intent. It wasn't just Rory Burns hair that was sporting a new look.

England went about this chase like this was the first innings of the series, not the last. But they ran into four good bowlers. When has England had four fit bowlers in form suited to conditions for a match this series?

And that is the difference. In a weird hypothetical world, I assume the Australian batters struggle with their own bowlers, especially (and we're deep down the hole now) if they had the same fielders to catch them.

Australian bowling is better than England's bowling. They have superior options for these conditions and probably most surfaces worldwide. Also a fully functioning spinner who can bowl anywhere - except Hobart, it seems. Anderson and Broad played six Tests altogether, and neither bowled poorly, both averaging either side of 25. Boland played three, took two fewer wickets than the two English greats combined, and averaged 9.55.

Based on the depth chart of the start of this series, Boland's the 6th choice seamer. He's undoubtedly a bit higher now.

Australia's batting is better than England's. Smith might be running a bit faulty, Labuschagne does get dropped a lot, and Warner struggles with Broad and away from home. Yet, England would kill for any of them. Put it this way, Usman Khawaja was the sixth-best batter coming into this series, according to the Australian selectors. And he doubled England's century count in a match. Who even is England's fifth-best. If Root and Stokes are one-two, who is third, Buttler or Bairstow, so that leaves Burns, Pope and Crawley to fight for fifth-best.

As for the fielding, while it evened out a little for England towards the end, they aren't the fielding side that Australia are. They didn't turn up with a slips cordon they could trust, which remains that way.

So that means that Australia out bowled, batted and fielded England, and on paper, that is more or less how it looked coming in.

Now let's look at the lowlights. Yes, Broad could trouble Warner, probably more so in the right circumstances. It's a good matchup for England, as was shown by Broad dismissing Warner twice this series in 67 balls. But - and I really can't stress this enough - only if you play Broad against Warner. The real problem lies in England's idea to rest and rotate Anderson, Broad and Robinson. It was smart when Jofra Archer was around. But he wasn't, so starting with only one of the three didn't work.

Their plans to Labuschagne did work, except that they kept bungling them. There is no doubt he's a quality player, and for many different reasons, he's had some ride since coming back to the team. A few early catches could have tested him. Any catch, really.

And what of Smith? Their plan was to bowl short and fast, yet they ended up with one quick in their team through injury and selection. The actual plan worked; it's just only Mark Wood was there. But Smith still struggled, but he was a centrepiece of 400 run totals the two times he got away. Which isn't huge, but gee whiz, to England, that's Everest right now.

So in all, their plans to Australia's three best batters worked. But they found other ways to unravel them.

But that wasn't the worst part, it was that Travis Head and Usman Khawaja inflicted the real image. Imagine keeping Smith, Warner and Labuschange to averages under 45 only to allow Head and Khawaja to score so many runs. These are not unknown gems; they're international replacement level players that England are used to. There is plenty of video - and now thanks to England - even more coverage of them batting.

We haven't talked about Marcus Harris yet, he was dropped while averaging 29 this series. That's near MBE level for an English player on this tour.

England ensured that Smith, Labuschagne and Warner averaged 35.5. Yay. They allowed Head, Khawaja, Green, Carey and Harris to average 38.7. Oh, no. And Carey averaged 20 in that.

So what of England's batting? Since 2012 until now, this team has been on an incredible slide with the bat, even in the era where batting was easier. Their only upgrade is Root for Pietersen in that time. They have never really got close to replacing Strauss, Cook, Trott, Bell or Prior.

They'd shag an apple pie to get Paul Collingwood in this team.

Their batting was so bad that they had to open up with two guys who average 31 in first-class cricket. Opening the bowling for Australia was Pat Cummins with a bowling average of 21. What did England actually expect of the Hameed Crawley pairing? By not being hurt, they probably did more than anyone hoped.

Rory Burns is still probably their best opener. And how did he celebrate his comeback, with a run out and leaving the ball onto his stumps.

Dawid Malan was three, who was accidentally in this team because of his late call up against India. He started well but ended with a 24 average. If this series was another five matches long, what would you realistically expect him to average in those, 20, 15, maybe less? His angled bat to back of a length balls outside off stump is how to sexually arouse an Australian bowler.

Stokes' batting only turned up for one Test, the easiest batting surface as it transpired. He had physical and mental injuries coming into this series. He played hurt while he was here. And when the seamers weren't hunting him, he was up against Nathan Lyon, who has dismissed him the second most in Tests.

Jonny Bairstow struggled in Melbourne before making a hundred in Sydney and looking pretty good in the second innings. There is a whole Buttler-fly effect to why he wasn't in this series from the start. But, of course, he also had his thumb detached in making that singular English century in a dead rubber match. No good fortune could go unpunished.

Buttler also missed the last Test. Of course he started the series by dropping catches in between taking blinders. He never passed 39 with the bat, but we must remember his stoic 26 at Adelaide that almost got England the draw. And then he STOOD ON HIS STUMPS.

Ollie Pope did two things here. He never passed forty, and also made a bigger gap between his oval average and the one everywhere else.

We should point out Chris Woakes' batting because he made a solid claim to bat anywhere in the order that Root or Stokes don't want to. And we shouldn't mention his bowling away from home ever. I don't even know how it is possible to be that good at home and that bad away as a seamer.

Sure the balls are different, but it's like he bowls with a marble at home and a grapefruit when he travels.

None of this even mentions Jack Leach. Who was chosen for the Gabba Test even though spinners don't do well there, he bowls poorly to left-handers and barely gets to work on his away from Asia form. Oh, and he didn't bowl in the next Test because of the treatment he received in the first.

But let's just focus on Leach for a moment, not the man, nor his bowling But that situation. England turned up with the inferior team, in conditions that didn't suit their strengths without their two best bowling options due to injuries. And they had a choice between a fast bowler lefty specialist with 500 Test wickets who has been successful at this ground and they picked a man where nothing at all was in his favour.

There is little that Silverwood, Giles, Root, Harrison, and the Queen can do about the fact England aren't as good as Australia. But they can control that. That they would probably have lost anyway doesn't mean these aren't mistakes. They couldn't know that Scott Boland was the new George Lohmann. Or that Travis Head would press turbo so successfully. But they knew about Leach, the Gabba and Left handers. They knew Hameed had low hands. That picking a medium-fast heavy attack would most likely fail.

They knew they would probably lose, and they chose madness on the way there.

They also knew that Mark Wood had a big workload. He tried hard all series, often bowling spells longer than England would like. He has gamely swung the bat despite a lack of real technique. And who was smiling early in the day, almost unaware of what was going to come.

The man with the imaginary horse loves to smile and try hard. He flings himself around the crease while hurtling the ball down at proper speed. And how did his day finish after that smile. Well he pulled the ball onto his own stumps from outside off. England's leading wicket-taker, the only player in the squad who genuinely lifted his reputation on this tour, and he ended it by destroying his own wicket.

By this point, there were no smiles, not even from their happy go lucky quick. There was a stare at what happened.

And then a look to the sky. If Wood smiled at all on the way off, the cameras didn't show it. Just anger and frustration.

Let's just compare the two smiles.

Wood is full of hope, brimming with maybe, this time, we can do it lads energy.

While Root has the energy of, well, at least it can't get any fucken worse.