Skipper Joe Root has dismissed suggestions that captaincy is affecting his batting ahead of England’s bid to level the Ashes series at the Kia Oval.

Root, 28, averages 30.87 in the series before the fifth and final Test and has yet to score a hundred, while in contrast former Australia captain Steve Smith has chalked up 671 runs at 134.20.

Before he took over from Alastair Cook in February 2017, Root averaged 52.80 with the bat, but that figure has fallen to 40.90 since – a duck in each of the last three Ashes Tests contributing to a 2-1 series deficit.

But when asked by Sky Sports if he feels the captaincy affects his batting, Root said: No. It’s been a tough year for batting on both sides. Of course, I’ve not performed as I would have liked but that’s part and parcel of Test cricket.

You’ve got to keep trying to find ways of counter-acting difficult passages of play and good bowling. I’ll keep trying to work on that and try to improve my game.

Out-going head coach Trevor Bayliss defended Root’s captaincy on Wednesday, saying: He’s not come under question from anyone making any decisions. He’s under no pressure at all.

Root stressed that he is fully focussed on trying to secure a series-levelling win against Australia before embarking on what he hopes will be successful winter tours of New Zealand and South Africa.

He said: In terms of my own captaincy, I know the direction I want to take this team forward in and it’s about starting that now and not after this series – trying to make sure that we use this as a stepping stone; win this game and then have a really strong winter and move forward as a group.

Australia go into the final Test having retained the Ashes at Old Trafford and captain Tim Paine says his side have no intention of surrendering a series win – the tourists calling up Mitchell Marsh for Travis Head.

England have made two changes of their own with all-rounders Sam Curran and Chris Woakes returning at the expense of opener Jason Roy and seamer Craig Overton, and Root says the hosts are determined to end the summer on a winning note.

We’ve not lost anything yet, he said. Of course, we’re disappointed not to win the Ashes back but we’re fully focused on making sure that we do everything we can to finish the series 2-2.

We’ve got a chance to level this series and make it slightly better than it looks right now. That’s the full focus of this group so we’ve got to make sure that we win this game.

And there’s the Test Championship points to play for as well, which down the line could make a huge difference, so there is plenty to play for.

Watch the fifth and final Ashes Test live on Sky Sports The Ashes from 10am on Thursday and follow over-by-over commentary and in-play clips on and the Sky Sports App.

(c) Sky Sports 2019: Joe Root dismisses concerns that England captaincy is affecting his batting