Ashes: First Test 'will not define' England-Australia series, says Joe Root

1 month ago 44
Ashes will come down to how sides manage 'unique' build-up - Root
Venue: Gabba, Brisbane Dates: 8-12 December Time: 00:00 GMT
Coverage: Ball-by-ball commentary on Test Match Special, plus live text commentary, features and analysis on the BBC Sport website and app

Avoiding defeat in the first Test in Brisbane would "not define" the Ashes but would give England a "great opportunity", says captain Joe Root.

The five-Test series starts at 00:00 GMT on Wednesday at the Gabba - where England last won in 1986, losing six times and drawing twice since.

"Avoiding defeat would be a brilliant start to the series, absolutely," Root told BBC Sport.

"In many respects we've got nothing to lose coming here for this series."

Root, who is captaining England in a third Ashes series, added: "I don't think avoiding defeat will define the series but it'll certainly put us in a really strong position and give us a great opportunity moving forward into the rest of it.

"But ultimately we've just got to concentrate on what's right in front of us right now and starting the Test match well, getting into the series and managing everything else that goes around an Ashes first morning and taking the game from there.

"We've got a great chance in the circumstances that we find ourselves in to come and do something very special and we should take great confidence from that going into it."

Will England win the Ashes? Pundit predictions'Stokes has an aura - Australia know what he can do''Australian expectations are high, but England have a chance'Quiz: How much do you remember about Ashes opening days?Listen: Project Ashes - how England have prepared for the Ashes

Australia, who only need a draw in the series to retain the Ashes, named their XI at a pre-series media launch on Sunday, but on Monday morning Root said: "I don't feel comfortable revealing anything at this stage."

England would normally have played two or three warm-up games before the first Test, but a 14-day quarantine and bad weather has limited their match practice to just over two days.

Despite that, Root confirmed that all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has not played any cricket since taking a break for his mental wellbeing in July, was available for selection.

"Ben will add a huge amount," said Root. "I'm sure he'll play a big part for us throughout the whole series."

'I want to live in Ashes history'

Root goes into the series having scored 1,333 runs in 2021, at an average of 66.12.

Those runs have taken his career average back above 50, but he has struggled to reach those heights on his previous two tours of Australia, averaging 38 in 17 innings.

The 30-year-old is aiming to improve on that in this series and become a part of the Ashes story.

"I'm an Ashes player and I want to live in the history of this great rivalry," said Root. "That is a carrot there for everyone."

'We've got great vibes'

Australia's preparations have also been hampered, with rain affecting their intra-squad game and captain Tim Paine resigning less than three weeks before the first Test over a historical investigation into sexually explicit texts to a female colleague.

Pat Cummins has replaced him, and will become the first pace bowler to lead Australia since the 1950s.

Wicketkeeper Alex Carey will make his Test debut as Paine's replacement, while Travis Head has edged out Usman Khawaja to bat at five and left-arm quick Mitchell Starc keeps his place despite calls for him to be dropped.

"We felt really blessed to have so many experienced options and guys that are coming off really strong performances in Shield cricket," said Cummins.

"We feel really settled - the core of this group has been together a lot and we know each other really well.

"Most importantly we've got great vibes, everybody gets on really well and we have a bit of fun.

"I don't think you'll see huge change [because of my captaincy]. Everybody is an expert and all over their own game so I won't be standing on any toes.

"This first Test will be huge in the context of the series, more than my captaincy."

 Head 39.75 and Khawaja 40.66Travis Head saw off competition from Usman Khawaja to bat at five

Around the BBC - Sounds

The baseball coach vs an algorithm: Can formulas really pick a better team then their coach?What makes a great captain? Terry Butcher looks at the qualities managers look for in a leader

Around the BBC footer - Sounds

Read Entire Article