Joe Root has returned fire on the pre-Ashes warning shots Australia have started aiming in the tourists’ direction.
Root’s opposite number Steve Smith joined a home chorus over recent days on the prospect of reopening the scars England suffered during their descent to a 5-0 whitewash defeat on their last Ashes trip four years ago.
Root himself was dropped for the final Test of a series which had a messy aftermath for England, with the axing of Kevin Pietersen and the end of Andy Flower’s era as coach. They return with a core of evergreen veterans but an otherwise much-changed squad under a new captain and new coach, Australian Trevor Bayliss.
Speaking ahead of today’s first tour match, a two-day fixture against a second-string Western Australia XI at the WACA, Root pointed out the new personnel – and referenced too the small matter of 2015’s 3-2 home Ashes win in the intervening years.
“There’s been a lot of talk about last time round,” he said. “We’re a completely different side, and so are they.
“Of course, they’ll try to bring up all sorts of stuff like that. But we’ve obviously played a lot of cricket since then and have played Australia as well – and that went quite well for us. So I hope we’ll be able to do the same.”
Against an inexperienced WA team led by Australia seamer Nathan Coulter-Nile, England will be without both Moeen Ali and Steven Finn – the duo also being ruled out of the second tour match agsainst a Cricket Australia XI in Adelaide on Wednesday – and have also left out reserve wicketkeeper Ben Foakes from the 13 who will be involved.
Root is anticipating a good examination of England’s readiness for the challenges ahead, and has made clear no-one in his team will be tempted into self-preservation or dwelling on personal success or failure.
“For us, it’s about making sure when we get our opportunities you take advantage of them, capitalise, and make big scores and take lots of wickets,” said Root. “It’s a great opportunity for guys to stand up and stake their claim.”
England’s mantra from the outset is to stick together and play for one another.
Of course, they’ll try to bring up all sorts of stuff like that. But we’ve obviously played a lot of cricket since then and have played Australia as well – and that went quite well for us.Yorkshire’s England captain, Joe Root
“I think it’s really important the lads have that attitude going into these fixtures,” added Root. “One of the most important things (is that) within that dressing room it is going to be a squad effort, we’re going to have to show a lot of character as a group and there can’t be any selfish mentality out in the middle.
“It’s going to have to be about doing your job within the team, and not worrying about individual performances.”