Chris Silverwood says he wants to continue as England coach despite the side's humiliating 4-0 Ashes loss in Australia, and has also backed Joe Root to continue as captain of his country.

England ended the series with yet another batting collapse, losing all 10 wickets for the addition of just 56 more runs after a promising start to their second innings in Hobart's fifth Test, and the side have now won just one of their last 14 Tests, a run stretching back to last February. 

Speaking one day after England's dire 146-run defeat, Silverwood discussed the futures of both himself and his captain.

While admitting his job is "on the line" after England were beaten Down Under for the third consecutive Ashes series, Silverwood insisted he "definitely" wants to carry on in the role. 

"I am honoured to be head coach of England, but I am an England cricket fan as well," Silverwood said.

"I am desperate to see England do well and am desperate to [be an] influence to make us better."

Ian Botham led an onslaught of criticism for England's Ashes failures after Joe Root's team capitulated pitifully to lose the final Test in Hobart.

Botham was joined by fellow former England captains Alastair Cook, Michael Vaughan and David Gower in picking apart another wretched display, with Australia tying up a 4-0 series victory.

England sit at the foot of the World Test Championship, and Botham said the culture of English cricket needed to change, with the heavy emphasis on domestic limited-overs competitions harming the five-day team.

Speaking on Channel 7, Botham said: "It's been embarrassing, if I'm honest. Gutless.

"The way they performed today disappointed me and will have disappointed everyone back home."

England went from 68-0 to 124 all out, the final ignominy from a shambolic tour performance as Australia won by 146 runs.

"The one thing we need to do right now is take our heads out of the sand and pull together and prioritise red-ball cricket," Botham said. "If we're not careful, the eskimos will be beating us."

Cook, Joe Root's predecessor as captain, found it a jarring watch as England went from building a solid foundation to outright carnage, unable to hold back Australia's victory charge.

"There was no resilience there. As soon as they get under pressure, you seen how much resolve there is," Cook said.

"That was very, very tough viewing and that has to be our rock bottom. There cannot be any worse a place in terms of getting bowled out in an hour and a half."

Speaking on BT Sport, Cook added: "As a batter and a professional who plays games of cricket, you get bowled out in a session once or twice in a career.

"You see a batting line-up devoid of all confidence and belief, that once you lose one wicket or two wickets, nobody's going to step up and stop that slide.

"You can talk all you want about it in the dressing room, but until some people grab this team by the scruff of the neck and move it forward themselves, I can't see what's changed."

Vaughan, on Twitter, said England had carried through 2021's "year of the batting collapse" into this year, adding: "You can cope with losing but not when you throw the towel in."

Gower suggested the positive messages that Root and coach Chris Silverwood attempted to deliver were misleading.

"I think we understand very easily that neither Joe Root or Chris Silverwood are going to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth under these circumstances," Gower said.

"Both are under pressure for different reasons. Joe has handled it well, kept a smile on his face. When you see him run out to bat today you can see there is a man who wants to do his best to finish on a high note, but he is not being supported.

"Silverwood's role is a different one because he is fully implicated in selection, and selection's been one of the huge talking points on this tour, right from Brisbane onwards."

For the first Test at the Gabba, England went into the match and series with star bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson mystifyingly left on the sidelines.

"There were jaws dropping at home and in Brisbane when the team was announced and when events unfolded," Gower said.

Also speaking on BT Sport, Gower said he had "genuine sympathy" for Root given the focus on white-ball cricket. Although England won the World Cup, in Test cricket they are firmly in the doldrums.

"This is the oldest, most important form of the game," Gower said. "We need to defend it, we need an England team that plays it well, that is not languishing at the foot ... barely even at the foot of the World Test Championship.

"These things really annoy people and apparently it's really annoying me at the moment.

"When you're going to try to be constructive, you look at personnel for sure, so there will be people fearing for their position in the side. Then you also have to consider who else is there to take over. There are players out there who would hope they might get a go as a result of other people's failures, but they've got to show character."

Joe Root believes he remains the right man to take the England Test team forward, despite their humiliating Ashes series defeat in Australia.

The hosts clinched a 4-0 series victory by winning the fifth Test in Hobart on Sunday following yet another England batting collapse.

Chasing a target of 271 to end the series on a high, the tourists reached 68-0 but then lost all 10 wickets for 56 additional runs as they suffered a 146-run defeat.

It marked the 10th time in 14 Test matches that England have been beaten – tasting victory just once during that span – with Root's captaincy coming under scrutiny during the series.

Nevertheless, he underlined his hunger and desire to put things right in the role as skipper.

"I believe that I am the right man to take this team forward," Root said.

"I have an appetite to carry on and turn things around. If that decision is taken out of my hands, so be it.

"At the minute, we are going through a real tough stage as a group of players and the performances haven't been good enough.

"But I'd love the opportunity to try to turn things around and for us to start putting in performances from an English Test team."

Joe Root declared England must make decisive changes to their Test cricket programme following their Ashes humbling – but warned that things will not "change overnight".

Australia clinched a 4-0 series victory on Sunday after another batting collapse from the visitors saw them slump to a 146-run defeat in the fifth Test in Hobart.

England had looked in a promising position to claim a first win of the series after Mark Wood's career-best 6-37 helped to dismiss the hosts for 155 in the second innings.

Rory Burns and Zak Crawley mounted a good start as they chased a target of 271, but Cameron Green (3-21) sparked another rout.

The tourists proceeded to lose all 10 wickets for 56 runs as they were bowled out for 124.

It was a pitiful end to a dreadful series from England's perspective and another indication of their problems in the longest format.

They have won only one of their past 14 Test matches since last February and, when they return to Australia in 2025, it will have been 14 years since they last won an Ashes Test away from home.

Speaking to BT Sport, captain Root said: "A number of things have to change. In the short term, guys have to learn quickly. If you want to survive at this level, you have to learn quickly. What they are lacking is the opportunities to do that at the level beforehand.

"We need to sit down and have a clear look at what direction English cricket needs to take, what direction English Test cricket needs to take to improve and improve quickly. That is not going to change overnight."

He added: "It has been a frustration throughout. We have played good cricket in parts but not managed to string a whole game together.

"We have to learn from these experiences and get better, not come away and make the same mistakes. That is the challenge moving forward."

Australia skipper Pat Cummins, meanwhile, declared his side want to make their mark on foreign soil after a resounding victory.

"It is pretty crazy," he said. "As a professional cricketer, these are the series you have in your diary a couple of years out, so to come out with so many positives and winning 4-0, I am pumped.

"It feels like we are really building to something big. Now we want to share our wares overseas."

Joe Root has backed Chris Silverwood to stay on as head coach despite England's disappointing Ashes campaign

Silverwood's position, which he has held since being promoted from bowling coach in October 2019, is under growing pressure with England 3-0 down to Australia.

The 46-year-old presided over the Test defeats in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne before missing last week's drawn fourth Test in Sydney because of COVID-19.

He is now back with the squad for the start of Friday's final Test in Hobart and Root is hopeful it will not be Silverwood's last at the helm.

Asked if he would like to see Silverwood remain in charge, Root said: "Yes, I would. 

"It was a difficult week for the group of players with him not being around and it must have been very difficult for him.

"But I think the performances we put in during the first three games, I feel we've let him and the coaches down to a degree. 

"We've not played anywhere near the level we're capable of. It's a chance to do that this week."

England have a three-Test series with West Indies to come after the Ashes and then host New Zealand, India and South Africa later in the year.

They suffered nine Test defeats in a logistically challenging 2021 that forced Silverwood to shuffle his resources due to COVID bubbles and player withdrawals.

And Root praised Silverwood for the manner in which he has gone about his business over the past 18 months or so.

"I think he's very calm, he has the respect of the guys and he's got a desperation to see everyone do well or up-skill the players as best he can," Root said. 

"He's had a very difficult time of it with the environments we've been living in, trying to manage winning matches with bubble environments away from home, and multi-format players trying to prepare for an Ashes and a World Cup. It's very difficult.

"For a long time we've not been able to put our best teams out because we've been constantly trying to make sure from a mental wellbeing point of view everyone is looked after properly, because of the schedule we've dealt with over two years."

Australia hold a perfect Ashes day-night record and England will have to put up another huge fight to prevent them from ending the series with a win in the historic Test in Hobart.

The tourists avoided a whitewash when they batted out a draw on a tense final day at the Sydney Cricket Ground last week, James Anderson and Stuart Broad preventing Australia from taking the one wicket they needed to go 4-0 up.

They will start a first-ever Ashes Test in Hobart on Friday with Pat Cummins' side strong favourites to make it three Test wins out of three over England under the lights.

The series finale was due to be staged in Perth, but was moved due to Western Australia's border restrictions.

England have not won a Test in Australia since they came out on top at the SCG 11 years ago and they have never looked like ending that drought during this one-sided series.

Blundstone Arena has been a happy hunting ground for Australia, the hosts nine out of 13 Tests in Hobart – that 69 per cent win rate being their best at any home ground where they face played more than twice in the longest format.

A draw stopped the rot for the tourists, but they are winless in seven away Tests. It is their longest run without a victory on their travels since a 13-match barren spell from October 2016 to March 2018.

Both sides face selection dilemmas for what Australia hope will be their 150th Test victory over their fierce rivals. Their next best winning record is against West Indies (58 victories).

England, meanwhile, will simply be hoping for a win to at least take some positives from what has been a miserable tour. However, in both day-night meetings between these sides to dates, Australia have triumphed by 120 runs (in December 2017 and December 2021).

Head return leaves Harris vulnerable

Usman Khawaja could not have wished to make a bigger impact after getting the nod at the SCG, scoring a century in both innings of his first Test since August 2019.

Khawaja became the first player to plunder a ton in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting 

The experienced left-hander replaced Travis Head, who missed out after testing positive for coronavirus.

Head is fit for the fifth Test and averages 62 in the series, so he is set to come back into the side. Khawaja believed he was unlikely to retain his place despite his brilliance in Sydney, though there is a possibility the 35-year-old could find himself opening, with Marcus Harris potentially making way. 

Josh Hazlewood is still unavailable due to a side injury, while Mitchell Starc says he does not need a rest and that is no surprise given his outstanding record in day-night Tests.

Billings set for Test bow

Sam Billings is poised to make his Test debut for England after Jos Buttler flew home with a broken finger.

Billings drove over 500 miles to answer an England SOS call, having been in Queensland playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.

Ben Stokes (side) and Jonny Bairstow (thumb) batted through the pain barrier in Sydney and will be checked on, with the vice-captain possibly playing only as a batter.

Rory Burns could be recalled in place of a struggling Haseeb Hameed, while Ollie Robinson will be hoping to come back into the team and head coach Chris Silverwood is back with the touring party after missing the fourth Test due to coronavirus.

Captain Joe Root (23) is one away from recording the outright second most hundreds for England in men's Tests, while he has scored 847 runs in the red-ball format in Australia – the second-most by any non-Australian player without having scored a century in the country.

Broad, meanwhile, is only four wickets shy of becoming England's second all-time leading wicket taker against Australia in men's Tests. The paceman is on 125 as it stands, three behind the late Bob Willis (128), with Ian Botham the record holder with 148.

Joe Root plans to give Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow as much time as possible to be fit for a fifth and final Ashes Test in which he challenged England to show "fight" and "desire" from "ball one".

Star all-rounder Stokes has already confirmed in his column for The Mirror that he will not be able to bowl in the day-night Test in Hobart having suffered a "low grade tear" in his side during the gritty draw in Sydney that ensured Australia cannot secure a 5-0 series whitewash.

Jonny Bairstow scored a gutsy first-innings century in that match but was forced to play through the pain barrier after receiving a hefty blow on the thumb from Pat Cummins, an injury that meant he could not regain the gloves from Jos Buttler, who has travelled home with a broken thumb, in the second innings.

Captain Root said both men will be assessed over the next couple of days before a decision is made.

"We've got to just see where they're at over the next couple of days, see what their bodies can handle and then assess from there," Root told a news conference on Wednesday.

"Certainly you can pick Ben as a bat, Jonny too. We have to see where they are at, what their bodies can handle.

"You have to trust the medical advice. Those guys work tirelessly to make sure we are in the best possible position to go and win games and sometimes that is making some difficult calls.

"I think they need to make sure they feel like they're physically in a place where they can get through five days of hard cricket, whatever Australia throw at them, and they're in a position where they can go out and play and firstly, get through the game, but also, most importantly put in a performance as they managed to last week as well. 

"It's alright being fit to play but you've got to be fit to perform and I think that's what we've got to work out."

Stokes made two half centuries in Sydney, while Bairstow made a hard-earned 41 in the second to add to his century with both men proving crucial as England bravely fought for a draw after being heavily beaten in each of the first three Tests.

England were still largely outplayed by the hosts and had to dig deep to avoid defeat. Root wants to see the same kind of guts throughout the duration of the contest in Hobart.

"On the back of three very difficult games where we underperformed, to come back and get something from the last game showed a great amount of character," he added.

"There was an element of relief managing to get through those last few overs but the desire, the fight and the pride that everyone showed on that last day is something we have to harness.

"We have to play like that more frequently through the five days, not just on the last day when everything is on the line, but from ball one. We've proved to ourselves that we can do it, now can we take it a step further?

"Can we make sure we do it in a winning cause rather than just trying to save a Test match? We have something to build on – that’s what we have to take from the last game and into this one."

Joe Root insists there is still plenty to play for as far as England are concerned, despite having already lost the Ashes series to Australia after a dire first three Tests.

A chastening innings defeat in the third Test at the MCG gave the hosts an unassailable 3-0 lead, with England now just playing for pride in the final two, starting with the fourth Test at the SCG in Sydney this week.

"You can dwell on what's happened so far, or we can look at the opportunities that present themselves in the immediate future," Root said. "That can be the making of some sides and the start of something, that's the approach we'll have to take."

The England captain – who received the backing of Ben Stokes on Monday – also insisted he will continue focusing on the job at hand as he dismissed topics surrounding his future.

"I need to make sure that my full focus is on these two games," he added. "First and foremost, I need to try to get the best out of the group, make sure we put in those performances we keep banging on about out there on the field.

"We'll worry about the captaincy at the end of the series. I've got two big games here to manage well."

Root will lead England as captain in a Test for the 60th time, overtaking the record of 59 set by his predecessor Alastair Cook.

England's preparation has been far from ideal, with four coaches – including Chris Silverwood – in isolation, with assistant coach Graham Thorpe set to lead in Silverwood's absence.

The fourth Test will be the Pink Test at the SCG, the traditional event to raise funds for the Jane McGrath Foundation, the charity co-founded by former Australia cricketer Glenn McGrath following his wife's breast cancer diagnosis in 2005.

The ex-bowler's attendance is in doubt, however, after he tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday.

England to decide whether to stick or twist

The tourists made some notable changes for the third Test that it would be fair to say did not have the desired effect, but whether they change things back is far from certain.

Rory Burns was dropped after scoring just 51 runs in four innings across the first two Tests at an average of 12.75, but fellow opener Haseeb Hameed has only managed 65 in six innings at an average of 10.83.

Zak Crawley replaced Burns, making just 17 runs in Melbourne, but for a player who has played so little cricket recently it might be considered more beneficial in the long-term to give him another outing.

Chris Woakes was also left out of the third Test after an expensive return of 149-1 with the ball in Adelaide, but the all-rounder could be brought back for his batting as his average of 26.25 is the third best England have in this series.

Stuart Broad could come back in having been a surprising omission for the first and third Tests, as referenced by Steve Smith in the lead up to the clash in Sydney.

Only two players in English history can better Broad's career record of 120 Test wickets against Australia.

 

Options not a problem for Aussies

While England are desperately looking for players to put together a competitive side, Australia are wrestling with the conundrum of whether to leave out a bowler who took 6-7 in the second innings of the last Test.

Scott Boland had a Test debut to remember in his home-ground of the MCG, taking England wickets in the second innings with astonishing regularity, but with Josh Hazlewood possibly being available again after injury, Boland could be the one to make way.

Travis Head will miss out after testing positive for COVID-19 and is likely to be replaced by Usman Khawaja. Head has somewhat surprisingly been the hosts' top batsman in the series so far, scoring 248 runs in four innings at an average of 62.00.

There have been some calls for spinner Mitchell Swepson to be given a game in preparation for Australia's tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka later this year, but the SCG has not always been a kind pitch for spin.

England captain Joe Root urged his team to respond in "disjointed and challenging circumstances" ahead of the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.

The tourists have already succumbed to yet another series loss Down Under before a ball has even been bowled in the penultimate Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, having been outclassed in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

England's task has further mounted heading into the next Test, which starts on Tuesday, with head coach Chris Silverwood leading a list of absentees from the backroom staff due to COVID-19 issues.

Alongside the coaching shortage, some local net bowlers for the England side have also been withdrawn due to coronavirus complications, but Root insisted the seeming crisis is an opportunity for his team to unite.

"It has made things disjointed and challenging but it is a chance to come together," Root told BBC Sport.

"We're trying to manage it as best we can. In terms of practice, it's obviously going to look very different.

"We've all just got to be good human beings, good professionals, help each other out where we can and try and get the best possible prep going into these last two games.

"Whether it be putting pride back into the badge, whether it be making sure that we get Test Championship points, [and] for individuals making sure that they're pushing hard to cement their spots in the team. There's a huge amount to play for this group of players.

"We've got to stay tight, we've got to stay together. And we've got to put in a performance on one of the great Test venues in world cricket."

 

Root enjoyed an outstanding 2021 on the personal front, finishing with 1,708 runs at an average of 61 – the third-best haul in a calendar year, only behind Vivian Richards (1,710 in 1976) and Mohammad Yousuf (1,788 in 2006). 

Indeed, Root scored 26 per cent of all of England's runs last year – the highest proportion of any player for their respective teams in 2021 – but questions have been raised over the 31-year-old's captaincy credentials.

Nevertheless, Root – who received the backing of Ben Stokes earlier on Monday – ensures he will continue focusing on the job ahead as he dismissed topics surrounding his future.

"I need to make sure that my full focus is on these two games," he added. "First and foremost, I need to try to get the best out of the group, make sure we put in those performances we keep banging on about out there on the field.

"We'll worry about the captaincy at the end of the series. I've got two big games here to manage well."

All-rounder Ben Stokes has no desire to take over as England captain as pressure mounts on Joe Root in light of the side's 3-0 Ashes deficit.

Root replaced Alastair Cook as England's full-time Test captain in early 2017 but has come under scrutiny with the side losing the Ashes in lopsided fashion.

The 31-year-old batsman was also in charge when England lost 4-0 to Ashes in 2017-18 and failed to win back the urn on home soil in 2019 with a 2-2 series draw.

Stokes looms as Root's obvious replacement as the side's vice-captain and arguably the only lock in England's best XI but he dismissed the role was on his radar.

"I've never really had an ambition to be a captain," Stokes said. "Captaincy is more than about setting fields, picking the team, making decisions out there in the middle.

"A captain is someone you want to go out and play for. Joe Root is someone I always want to play for.

"It's totally Joe's decision. He shouldn't be forced into doing it. I'm sure Cooky felt the same way. He did it for so long and when he knew his time was up, his time was up. Those discussions haven't entered anywhere near Joe yet.

"I don't sense that at all with Joe. He's brought this team a long way. He's done some great things. Obviously this series hasn't gone too well, not from a captaincy point of view, but from a team and results point of view."

Stokes, who has only managed 101 runs at 16.83 and four wickets at 62.25 this series, threw his support behind under-fire coach Chris Silverwood.

"Unfortunately, the captain and coach bear the scrutiny for [results], but there are 10 other guys out there in the field," he said.

"That's [the media's] job, to say, 'Should people step down?' At the end of the day, the most important people's opinions are those guys in the dressing room and they've got our thorough support.

"Chris Silverwood, exactly the same. He's a real players' coach. He stands up for you as individuals and players as well.

"All the hype in the media recently about their futures, it's your job to write that, but they know full well they have the support of everyone in there and that's all that matters."

The fourth Ashes Test starts in Sydney on Wednesday.

Only so much of the blame for England's poor Ashes series can lie with captain Joe Root, according to former skipper Graham Gooch.

Australia have already retained the Ashes with two Tests to spare, having established an unassailable 3-0 lead, dominating the opening three matches in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

Root has been one of the only England batters to perform well, going on to become the leading run-scorer as the nation's Test captain, a role he has fulfilled since 2017.

He will lead England out for a record 60th time in the fourth Test in Sydney, overtaking Alastair Cook's tally of 59, while 26 per cent of all the team's runs were scored by Root in 2021, with the Yorkshireman plundering 1,708 in total.

However, England have averaged just 187.5 with the bat in six innings, failing to score more than 300 in any of the first three Tests down under, and Root's leadership abilities have come under scrutiny.

But after Chris Woakes backed the 31-year-old to stay on, Gooch has also offered his support to Root, but suggested the skipper may need to take a more realistic view on his team's scenario.

"I like Joe a lot. He's a brilliant player; a world-class player. He's not a bad captain; I don't think it’s his fault," Gooch, who scored 8,900 Test runs for England between 1975 and 1995, told Stats Perform.

"But to keep saying we’re close to Australia, that we can feel it coming, and one good session or one good day is going to turn it around. I don't think that’s going to wash really. We've been comprehensively beaten.

"I think it's a bit galling for us ex-pros and captains to hear."

Gooch, fourth on the all-time list for runs scored as England's Test captain, also paid tribute to the victorious Australia, whose strong displays he feels have played a major part in the tourists' slump.

Asked whether he believed the outcome of the Series was down to the hosts' performances or a poor showing by England, he said: "I think it's a bit of both.

"I think you've got Australia doing what they do best. They're aggressive, they're ruthless. If they smell blood, they capitalise on it.

"It's not because England have been so poor; they have not allowed England to be successful."

Crowds came flocking back in force, we had the full complement of golf majors and tennis grand slams, and sport almost ran smoothly over the past 12 months.

To boot, there were sensational moments, featuring both the biggest names in sport and some that few had heard of at this time last year.

Here, Stats Perform looks back at some of the biggest stories of the year, and the numbers that made them so remarkable.

Jacobs, the shock Tokyo Olympics sprint king

Entering 2021, Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs had a career-best of 10.03 seconds for the 100 metres. By most standards that is staggeringly quick, but at the very elite level of sprinting it ranks as only middling. To put it into some context, 34 men ran quicker than 10.03 seconds in 2021. Jacobs finished only 19th at the 2019 World Championship and few outside of athletics circles knew the name. The former long-jumper grabbed a little attention when he produced a world-leading 6.47 seconds to win the 60 metres at the European Indoor Championships in March, then he ran 9.95 for the 100m in Savona in May, but he still headed to the Tokyo Olympics as a big outsider, not expected to be a factor. Jacobs made a mockery of his lowly billing, as he powered to personal bests in the heats and semi-finals before doing so again in the final, dashing home first in 9.80 seconds to grab gold and leaving rivals gasping in astonishment. He led Italy to sprint relay gold too, a glorious double in that country's remarkable year of success.

Emma Raducan-who? From A level exams to US Open top marks

Twelve months ago – no, make that barely six – London-based Raducanu was simply not a factor in grand slam discussions. Fresh out of school, she had to fight to earn a wildcard for Wimbledon when organisers initially baulked at the idea, but they were persuaded and Raducanu went on to reach the fourth round. The teenager who was born in Canada and has a Romanian father and Chinese mother had arrived, but it was at the US Open that she roared into the history books. There was no wildcard in New York for the British youngster, but Raducanu won three qualifying matches and then raced through the main draw, defeating 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the title match. She did not drop a set in 10 matches and became the first women in the Open era to win 10 main-draw matches in her first two grand slams. It made her the first qualifier to win a slam and the first US Open women's singles winner since Serena Williams in 2014 to triumph at the tournament without dropping a set along the way. The $2.5million in prize money was followed by endorsement offers from across the world as Raducanu became an instant superstar. The tennis world waits to see what comes next.

No country for old men as US win Ryder Cup

The youngest Ryder Cup team ever assembled by the United States torched European hopes at Whistling Straits in September, scoring a 19-9 victory. That was the widest margin of victory by either side since Europe, rather than Great Britain and Ireland, became the USA's opposition in 1979. Dustin Johnson bounced back from losing four of his five matches in the 2018 edition to finish with a 5-0 record, just the third player in US v Europe battles to finish with a perfect record (after Larry Nelson in 1979 and Francesco Molinari in 2018). Johnson, at 37, was the oldest player on the team. European veteran Lee Westwood matched Nick Faldo's record of 11 appearances in the match, while Sergio Garcia stretched his points record from 25.5 to 28.5 as he and Jon Rahm combined well, but it was emphatically an event that belonged to the host Americans.

Veteran Mickelson still had his day 

He might have been absent for the US team's Ryder Cup triumph, but Phil Mickelson's name was up in lights again as he became the oldest winner of a men's golf major, landing the US PGA Championship title in May. At the age of 50, Mickelson caused a huge upset at Kiawah Island, scooping his sixth career major when he held off Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen on the final day. It was his only top-10 finish of the year on the PGA Tour.

Federer bagelled, Djokovic denied Golden Slam

Strange things happened in men's tennis in 2021, not least the sight of Roger Federer suffering a 6-0 'bagel' at the end of a straight-sets Wimbledon quarter-final defeat. That happened against Hubert Hurkacz in July, and it was the last match Federer played in the year. He wants to play again, and the 40-year-old believes he can, but knee surgery will keep him out of action until mid-2022 at the earliest, by his own reckoning, and that Centre Court defeat to Hurkacz could turn out to be how his eight-title Wimbledon career ends. Novak Djokovic joined Federer and Nadal on a joint-record 20 grand slam titles by cleaning up at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and he has now spent a record 353 weeks at number one, passing Federer this year. But Djokovic could not make it a Golden Slam, losing to eventual champion Alexander Zverev in the Olympic Games semi-finals, and a Grand Slam was just beyond him too, Daniil Medvedev winning his first major when he swept the Serbian in straight sets in the US Open final.

Another year, more records for Brady

At the age of 43, Tom Brady was MVP in the Super Bowl as he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in February. He now has seven Super Bowl wins behind him, another outright record, and has been MVP in the game on an unmatched five occasions. Brady, having turned 44 in August, is in the hunt for another Super Bowl ring and perhaps outright NFL MVP honours this season, although Aaron Rodgers will likely deny him the latter accolade. Still, the records keep coming for Brady. He has moved in front of Drew Brees to have the most pass completions in league history (7,200 and counting), become the first ever 15-time Pro Bowler, and in December became the first quarterback to throw 700 career touchdowns.

England's Ashes surrender calls for Root and branch review

Joe Root became the first England captain – or player, indeed – to suffer nine defeats in Tests starting in a single calendar year, in a strange 12 months for the Yorkshireman. His form with the bat has been up there with the best of his career, the 31-year-old scoring 1,708 Test runs to go third on the all-time single-year list, with only Mohammad Yousuf and Viv Richards ahead of him. Even in the Tests that England have lost, Root has made a number of handy contributions with the bat, scoring 648 runs at an average of 38.11. Overall he has scored 26 per cent of England's Test runs across the year, the highest proportion of any player for their respective team in 2021. Yet the Ashes were lost by lunch on day three of the third Test, an outrageously dismal result. Root top-scored in England's two innings in Melbourne, typically, but he cannot get a tune out of many of his team-mates, so ends the year with his future as skipper in doubt.

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Chris Woakes has given his support to Joe Root amid growing calls for England's star batsman to step down as captain following a chastening Ashes defeat in Australia.

The hosts took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series after winning by an innings and 14 runs in the third Test at the MCG on Tuesday, skittling England for just 68 in their second innings, after which Root said it was "too soon to look at things."

The 30-year-old has been England's Test captain since 2017 after taking over from Sir Alastair Cook, and will lead his side out for a record 60th time in the fourth Test in Sydney, overtaking Cook's previous record of 59.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Woakes expressed his backing for Root, saying: "Joe is a great cricketer with a great cricket brain. Hopefully he can continue [as captain].

"We haven't been able to bat well around him. You'd expect us to probably put in a lot stronger performances than we have.

"I'm sure Joe will have many more years like he's already had and hopefully we can bat better around him."

England have averaged just 187.5 with the bat in six innings, failing to score more than 300 in any of the first three Tests down under.

Root has scored 1,708 runs in 2021, which equates to 26 per cent of his team's overall total, the highest proportion of any player for their respective team in Test cricket.

When asked if Root still has the backing of the team, Woakes said: "Absolutely."

The Warwickshire all-rounder was left out of the team for the third Test having taken a combined 3-228 with the ball in the first two Tests, although his batting average of 26.25 is England's third highest of the series behind only Root (42.16) and Dawid Malan (33.66).

The future of Chris Silverwood has also been called into question with the former England bowler winning just one of his last 12 Tests as coach.

"It's hard for us to focus on people," Woakes added when asked about Silverwood's position. "Who am I to talk about people's futures other than my own?"

Joe Root has refused to be drawn into the discussion around the state of English cricket despite Australia retaining the Ashes in record time and insists the series is not over.

England were humbled by an innings and 14 runs at the MCG on Tuesday as Australia claimed a series-clinching victory for an unassailable 3-0 Ashes lead.

Australia will now chase a 5-0 whitewash over England who were ripped apart inside an hour on the third day, bowled out for a meagre 68 which marked the nation's ninth-lowest Ashes score.

Despite the apparent gulf between the two sides and the disastrous nature of the MCG defeat, Root remained upbeat about achieving something out of the series ahead of Tests in Sydney and Hobart.

The situation has led to discussion around England's Test team and whether the County system is preparing players appropriately to compete at the elite level but Root would not be drawn on that.

"The series isn’t over yet," Root said at the post-game news conference. "We've got two very big games. It'd be wrong to look past that.

"As a player you talk about the next hour or the next session or the every next ball and managing that to be the best of your abilities, that applies to me as captain of this team.

"We have to make sure we come away from this tour with some better performances and a win or two."

Root added: "We need to put some pride back in to the badge. We need to give people back home something to celebrate and look fondly back on from this tour.

"It's bitterly disappointing to be 3-0 down but with two matches to go we have to make sure we come away with a couple of wins."

Root refused to use England's internal COVID-19 issues as an excuse for their ordinary third day display as they lost their remaining six wickets for 37 runs in 15.4 overs after resuming at 31-4.

The England skipper added that he felt his side had fought back on the second day with the ball, bowling Australia out for 267 to trail by 82 runs, but were unable to sustain their fight once again.

"I actually thought the way we went about our cricket on the field was excellent," Root told Fox Sports. "We put them under pressure and got ourselves in a position where we were very much in this Test match.

"We need to be more like that more frequently throughout the last two games."

He continued: "We've just got to do things for longer. There's been small pockets but nowhere near long enough to get into a Test match.

"We know the areas we need to improve on. We need to stay strong and make sure we use the next two Test matches as a real opportunity to take something away from this tour."

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