Sydney - Dawid Malan has backed his captain Joe Root to
convert his innings into centuries after again missing out on an elusive first
century in the Ashes series against Australia.
Root took another sickening body blow when his 141-ball
vigil was ended by a superb diving catch by Mitchell Marsh with two overs left
on the opening day of the fifth Test in Sydney on Thursday.
Root dejectedly slumped to his haunches as the Australians
celebrated his wicket for 83, the fourth time in the series he has failed to
convert a half-century.
"No-one means to get out, I thought Rooty played
fantastically well up to that point," said Malan, who reached stumps on an
"The second new ball is always a challenge. You don't
know if it's going to swing, you don't know if it's going to skid off the
"We were definitely speaking about trying to get
through this period. Still looking to be positive, still looking to have our
"Unfortunately, he clipped that to square leg and if it
was two or three yards to the left or right it would have been four and
everybody would have said 'great shot'."
Malan said he had confidence that Root would finally begin
converting his fifties into bigger scores with just 13 centuries from 36
half-centuries in his 65-Test career.
"He still averages 53 in Test cricket and the day will
come when he will probably start converting as well as Steve Smith does or the
other greats have done," he said.
"And when that happens, it will be scary to see how
good he can be and how high his average can jump to."
Malan, who has been one of England's few successes in the
series with 371 runs at 53, said Root's batting conversion failure was not
spoken about within the team confines.
"He's never really mentioned it in the changing
room," Malan said.
"Joe's disappointed when he gets out, whether he scores
150 or he scores 50. No matter who you are you want to be scoring 100s."
Malan said it was not ideal to lose two late wickets on a
hard-fought opening day.
"It sort of sums up where we've been in on this
tour," he said.
"We've been on top for so long in games and then to
make a couple of mistakes and let the Aussies back in... it's disappointing.
"I thought Rooty played fantastically well to get to
that position, obviously he was disappointed to get out and to be five down
after the hard work we put in today."