Defeat in Melbourne was England’s ninth loss in test match cricket this year, a number which equalled the record for most defeats in a calendar year set by Bangladesh in 2003.
The red ball format is something which England have struggled with this year, and several of the nine defeats have been by big margins in matches where Joe Root’s men failed to come to terms with their opposition.
Yet through the carnage, the England captain has stood tall and gone on to have a record breaking year with the bat.
His year started well and continued to get better and better.
In January, England toured Sri Lanka in the first trip abroad since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the two-match series, Root scored a 228 (a record high score for an English batter in Sri Lanka) and 186 as England sealed two comfortable wins by seven wickets and then six wickets.
The following month, a much tougher test was promised for England with a four-match series in India.
Things started well, with England batting first in the first test and registering 578 in their first innings, and Root played a true captain’s innings.
The Yorkshireman scored 218 runs, becoming the first English batsman to score a double century on his 100th test appearance.
England won the first test of the series, but some woeful displays with the bat saw them lose the next three with little more than a whimper as they scored 200 on just one occasion in six innings.
Fast forward to June and the start of the English summer, New Zealand visited for a two-match series at Lords and Edgbaston.
Following a draw at Lords, in which Root scored 40 and 42, a batting collapse inflicted a series defeat on England. It was New Zealand’s first series victory in England since 1999.
The big test at the height of the summer was the visit of India for a five-match series.
During what turned out to be a seesaw affair, Root shone with the bat, scoring 561 runs including three centuries and one half century.
The series technically hasn’t finished, with the fifth test at Edgbaston being called off due to COVID-19 cases in the Indian camp. This is scheduled to be played in July 2022.
Root had carried his side in several innings during this series, and he was reaching personal milestones even if his team were failing to support him.
In white ball cricket, England enjoyed a strong T20 World Cup falling short in the semi-final against New Zealand.
Joe Root took up the helm of the test side once again as they set off for Australia.
The three test matches so far have been forgettable for England fans, but Root has scored a fifty in each of the heavy defeats.
He passed 1700 runs for the calendar year and has shone as the beacon England desperately needed.
Although this was short of the world record, he has taken his place as the Englishman who scored the most test match runs in a year.
The fact that nine test matches have ended in defeat this year goes to show that, on far too many occasions, Root hasn’t received the support he deserved and needed.