Rumours of a rift between England skipper Joe Root and explosive quick Jofra Archer have emerged during the second day of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

During their hopeless efforts to remove Australian star Steve Smith on his way to 211, tensions reached boiling point as Root made demands from the slips in the 93rd over and Archer responded by looking at him like a scolded schoolboy.

And both former Australia captain Mark Taylor and former England skipper Nasser Hussain seized on it.

Archer, who was in the middle of a spell, was instructed to switch from over to around the wicket by his captain, which he did with some visible reluctance. The move only lasted three balls and the bowler looked annoyed he had been told how to play his role by Root.

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Hussain said Archer's negative reaction was perhaps indicative of a deeper problem within the squad.

"I think it was a telling moment, when Joe Root from slip told Archer to go around the wicket," Hussain said.

"I think there's a battle constantly going on between Root and Archer.

"Root at times wants to use him as the enforcer. The 'bang it in billy' to go at someone.

"Archer doesn't always feel comfortable with that. He wants to show his skills."

At the tea break, Taylor was even more blunt when he attempted to explain the situation.

"I'm not sure the relationship between Joe Root and Archer is going well at the moment," Taylor said. "To have that visible questioning (from Archer), that is not a good thing."

Archer, who rose to prominence at Lord's when he whacked Steve Smith on the helmet, concussing him amid a fiery spell of fast bowling, endured a tough two days at Old Trafford.

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He failed to take a wicket, finishing with figures of 0-97 and had Tim Paine dropped off his bowling. His speeds with the ball were also well below normal.

He wasn't the only one functioning poorly though as the entire England side looked flat as Australia went on the front foot and piled on the runs to finish their innings at 497-8 declared.