Joe Root plays down England lack of Ashes preparation – ‘We’ve a chance to do something special’


ngland captain Joe Root is confident his side will go into next week’s first Ashes Test fully prepared despite a lack of game time in Australia.

England managed just 29 overs in their opening warm-up game against the Lions last week because of the weather, with thundery showers forecast for at least parts of their final pre-Ashes match in Brisbane against the same opposition from tomorrow.

Australia’s own preparations have been similarly hampered by the weather, with the Ashes hosts looking at possible contingency plans regarding their own planned match against Australia A from Wednesday.

Whatever the outcome of the week, Root said of the build-up: “It has been unusual and different to a lot of previous tours but the guys have really taken the opportunities to get as much as they can from what they’ve had and all you can do in these situatios is be as ready as you can be.

“It might be we get some similar days and don’t get the time in the middle, whether you then play games in your mind a little bit more or find ways where, when the first ball comes down [of the Ashes], we’re in the best place possible.”

England have not won an Ashes series on Australian soil since 2010-11 and have lost nine Tests and drawn just one in their 10 matches Down Under since that series more than a decade ago.

But Root, who has been on the receiving end of an Australian Ashes series loss, is confident he and his England side can finally buck that trend.

He said: “I know exactly what it’s like to be on the wrong side of a series out here. For an England player to play Australia and win here is the dream, the cherry on top. We feel we have a brilliant opportunity ahead of us.

“If we can control our emotions and play to our skill levels and be smart in certain situations and do things differently to how we’ve done previously I believe we’ve got a brilliant chance to do something special here.”

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The series has been hit with all manner of uncertainty in the build-up. The Perth Test is considered no more than a 50-50 chance to go ahead, with Melbourne or Sydney potentially being lined up to host what would be the fifth and final Test of the series.

In addition, the latest Omicron variant of Covid-19 has cast doubts over the ability of some players’ families to fly out to Australia for Christmas.

Root already has his wife and two children out in Australia, and said he was confident the ECB would do everything in its power to assist the players.

“I think throughout this the ECB have supported the players extremely well,” he said. “They know how integral they [our families] are to us. I am sure they are doing their best to make the best of that situation.

“We are in the hands of the Australian Government and local Government and there’s not more we can do.”

England’s build-up to the five-Test series was boosted by the news that all-rounder Ben Stokes had been unaffected by a blow to his forearm in the nets. Stokes feared he might have broken it but took part in full training in Brisbane today ahead of tomorrow’s four-day match.

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Of the injury to Stokes, who has only just returned to the England fold, Root said: “To see Ben get hit like that was a scare. We all know how crucial he is in our squad and he seems to have come through it well and he practised again today. It’s really important he gets himself ready both physically and mentally for this series, and to play a big part in it.”

While England come into the Ashes game shy, Australia have had their own issues with Tim Paine resigning as captain after some historic sexually explicit text messages emerged. Pat Cummins has since been appointed captain but Root insisted any potential unrest in the Aussie camp would have no bearing on England.

“It’s not really for us to worry about or concern ourselves with,” he said. “It’s about readying ourselves as best we can. It’s important we focus properly on ourselves… and don’t get distracted by anything Australia are doing.”

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