With the exception of his 180 in the second match, Root has endured a succession of failures in his first series as a Test opener. However, the Yorkshire batsman reached 68 yesterday, helping the hosts to 247 for four in response to Australia's 492, before top-edging a sweep into the grateful hands of Shane Watson.
"You're just so hungry for runs and it's frustrating at times," Root admitted. "You have to keep believing in your own game and hopefully it will turn around at some point. You go through periods where you score quite freely and then it doesn't come as easy. You have to keep working at your game and it's Test cricket as well. Blokes will bowl well and you've got to work hard to combat it."
England eked out 215 runs in 98.3 overs, with each of the six batsmen who took to the crease getting started but none posting a significant score. Kevin Pietersen scored his slowest Ashes half-century - despite having a slight faster strike rate than Root - but the in-form Ian Bell closed on 29 not out and will have hopes of adding to his productive series if the weather holds off today.
England had resumed on 32, with Cook and Root teasing that out to 68 before the captain edged Ryan Harris to the wicketkeeper for 25. Cook has a top score of 62 in the series and his average of 27 ill befits a man who now tops England's all-time century list although despite his struggles, it took Australia just over an hour to remove him.
Root was slightly more fluent than his senior partner, with one imperious cover drive staking an early claim for shot of the day. He continued to keep his tally ticking along with semi-regular boundaries but managed to get stuck on 41 for 19 deliveries. A dashed single got him going again and a pair of confident leg-side flicks off Peter Siddle took him to 50. England No.3 Jonathan Trott was kept in check with some thoughtful field placings as England reached lunch on 97 for one.
In the afternoon session, extended to two-and-a-half-hours due to the time lost to rain on day two, England decided to strangle the game. A total of 38 overs were delivered, producing 84 runs and the fall of two wickets which was decidedly poor entertainment for the paying public, if not entirely surprising given England's position of strength in the series.
Root at least gave the impression that he would milk the situation for a second Ashes hundred but, having ground out 68 in 184 balls, he botched his sweep off the fourth ball of a new Nathan Lyon spell. Trott, like Cook somewhat short of runs in the series, was gritting his teeth at the other end. Harris tested him in particular, striking Trott on the forearm and then the helmet with a nasty bouncer.
Trott, of course, is at ease with slow-scoring sessions, but his new partner Pietersen was less comfortable. He took 44 balls to get into double figures and Nathan Lyon looked likeliest to get him.
A couple of bat-pad chances evaded Steve Smith at short leg but it Trott who was next out for 40. Mitchell Starc was the bowler, pinning his man lbw at his first attempt with the second new ball. An exchange of verbals involving Pietersen and Michael Clarke briefly threatened to entertain, but the arrival of tea cut them short.
The Australia captain wasted his side's second review when Pietersen had 44, unsuccessfully referring an lbw shout by Peter Siddle. However, Pietersen fell for exactly 50, nicking Starc to first slip only for the umpires to double check it was not a "bump" ball. That left England's man of the series, Bell, in with debutant Chris Woakes. The all-rounder had bowled nervously on day one but sent his first ball as a Test batsman racing to the cover boundary. He had 15no by the end, with Bell solid but becalmed at the other end.