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Root hopes efforts aren't in vain
Joe Root played arguably his best innings yet to help push the Adelaide Test into a final day but insisted it will only rank highly for him if England somehow close out a stalemate.
That seemed unlikely by stumps on day four, even after the young Yorkshireman had contributed 87 and shared a stand of 111 with Kevin Pietersen (53) in England's 247 for six.
Root met the might of Mitchell Johnson with a straight bat - and a habitual cheery smile when Australia's 'demon bowler' turned verbal - in a near four-and-a-half-hour stay.
But despite his individual efforts the likeliest outcome is a second defeat for England, leaving them 2-0 down heading to Perth for the third Test and if that is the case, Root will take no pleasure from his personal performance.
When it was put to him this could have been his most rewarding performance to date, he replied: "Ask me if we get a result at the end of the game.
"To me, if we're losing Test matches - regardless of your scores - you're not going to pride yourself on your performance."
Root is not about to give up hope, albeit with only four wickets to try to eke out 90 more overs in theoretical pursuit of a world-record 531 for a series-levelling victory.
Forecast rain on Monday may enter an equation in which England's new number three will have no further say.
Matt Prior and Stuart Broad reached the close unbeaten, after several scrapes each against Johnson and Ryan Harris with the second new ball.
"If there's a bit of weather about, I think we might be able to (get a draw)," said Root.
"We're obviously up against it ... (but) I thought Matty and Stuart tonight were exceptional, they showed a lot of fight.
"Obviously, we've got a lot of good things to take from today - and I hope we can do that for the rest of this game, and the series."
Root will take encouragement from day four in Adelaide, whatever the eventual outcome - because he believes England have shown what they are really made of.
He said: "Certainly, we had a scrap on. We knew we had to front up today, and try to put in a performance and show we were up for a fight.
"We knew we had to make sure everyone watching and playing knew we were in a battle and weren't going to lie down, we were going to show a bit of courage.
"We're going to have to continue to do that on Monday, and make sure we're out there for as long as possible and make it as hard for Australia as we can."
Root was unfazed by the altercations Johnson tried to instigate.
He added: "I didn't feel there was anything (wrong) going on out there ...
"You want to play hard cricket, and it's Ashes cricket - you'd expect that.
"You'd be disappointed if there wasn't a bit of rivalry, and what have you - I think it makes entertaining cricket to watch.
"It's certainly good to be involved in that in the middle. You know you're in a battle ... you know you've got to fight for your country."
Johnson's fellow seamer Peter Siddle made light of a couple of scenes - particularly involving Broad near the close - which caught the eye.
He said: "It was a tough day for the boys out there, and Mitch was trying to get the job done.
"There wasn't much to it."
Root's favoured response is to grin and, apparently, say little back.
"You've got to find your own way of doing it," he said. "They were just trying to get under my skin, and hoping they could find a way to get me out.
"I'd expect that to happen. I'd expect any team to do that.
"It's good confrontation. I like to get in a battle with the opposition. It's good, hard cricket - what the Ashes is all about."
Root's innings made a nonsense of those suggesting he should drop back down from number three, in favour of Ian Bell, after just one attempt there.
There was encouragement too at last for Prior, whose unbeaten 31 was a step back in the right direction after a miserable run of form.
Root said: "Matt's a class act, and I know there's a score just round the corner for him - whether it be this game, Perth, Melbourne, wherever."