Former England captain confronts concerns over Joe Root and Alastair Cook
Alastair Cook has failed to make an impact in the 2017-18 Ashes series (Picture: Getty)

Michael Atherton admits the form of England captain Joe Root and opener Alastair Cook is a cause of concern.

Root was dismissed for 20 in the first innings of the third Ashes Test in Perth, taking his overall tally for the series to 167 runs from five innings.

Dawid Malan urges England to copy Australia template to rescue Ashes hopes

Cook, meanwhile, is yet to pass 40 and was trapped lbw for just seven on day one at the WACA on his 150th Test match for England.

Asked about Root and Cook’s performances in Australia, former captain Atherton told Sky Sports: ‘I think Joe’s game is a little bit off, his balance isn’t quiet there.

Former England captain confronts concerns over Joe Root and Alastair Cook
Joe Root leaves the field after being caught behind by Pat Cummins (Picture: Getty)
Former England captain confronts concerns over Joe Root and Alastair Cook
England’s big guns have struggled with the bat (Picture: Getty)

‘He’s not playing at his absolutely best, he’s grafting and trying to find his rhythm.

‘Cook is having a bit of a struggle, it’s a top-class Australian attack. They’re fierce bowlers so it’s not easy against the new ball on a pitch like this.

‘He’s obviously not in his best form, he’s been struggling throughout the tour so far.’

Despite Root and Cook falling cheaply, England reached close in a dominant position on 305-4 as Dawid Malan scored his maiden international century and Jonny Bairstow made 75.

Former England captain confronts concerns over Joe Root and Alastair Cook
Dawid Malan scored his maiden international ton (Picture: Getty)

‘The way Malan got through that initial barrage was impressive,’ Atherton added. ‘Australia came really hard, they went short and aggressive. England had to weather the storm.

‘Malan played his shots with conviction, he skipped into the 30s and then settled and played beautifully with Bairstow.’

More: Cricket

Controversy surrounded Mark Stoneman’s dismissal during the afternoon session but Atherton believes the right decision was made in the end.

‘It was an interesting one, I’m not sure what the umpire saw that was conclusive enough to overturn the decision,’ he said. ‘It was probably the right decision made on the wrong terms.’

MORE: England star Ben Stokes returns to form with 93 off 47 balls

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