Joe Root believes his England team is wiser than the one “caught out” by the hype and then whitewashed 5-0 in Australia on his last Ashes visit.
The England captain was still a relative novice Test batsman four years ago, and ended his maiden tour Down Under by losing his place for the final defeat in Sydney.
This time, he is determined there will be no repeat – and has begun by setting a much different tone, insisting England will not be sucked into the heightening war of words before a ball is bowled in anger.
As Root prepares for a final warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI in Townsville, he considered his response carefully to reports that the hosts’ fast bowler Pat Cummins wants to put the ‘fear’ in England once the first Test gets under way in Brisbane next week.
“Fear is not the right word … respect probably is,” said Root. “They have a lot of quality in their attack, but we have lots of quality in our side too. Those are the words that will be flying around our dressing room.”
England expect to have both James Anderson and Jake Ball back in rude health for the Gabba. Their all-time leading wicket-taker was never scheduled to take on the CA XI again, so it was not yet any concern that he was “a bit under the weather” on Tuesday and missed practice at the Tony Ireland Stadium.
Ball, meanwhile, is set to start running again from Wednesday as he recovers from his ankle strain.
It was not fitness issues which dominated Root’s press conference, but instead the hot air which is gathering a head of steam here.
Australia opener David Warner spoke several weeks ago of “war” and “hatred” on the pitch this winter, and Cummins’ fellow pace bowler Mitchell Starc has announced his intention to “really intimidate” England.
Root told the BBC’s Test Match Special: “There’s been a lot of talk, some of it exciting and some of it a load of rubbish, especially from some of the Aussie players.
“I try not to do too much talking. That’s more for them to worry about. The more you say the more can backfire on you. We will go about things our way. I hope that’s the right way.”
The 26-year-old admits it did not quite pan out like that on his previous foray.
“Last time that caught us out, and I think we are a bit wiser this time,” he said. “Mentally we’ve approached it slightly differently this time around, and maybe slightly better.
“It’s making sure we are absolutely prepared for any scenario out there, and absolutely ready for that first game, whatever they do throw at us. We expect it to be hostile; we expect it to be a very loud and rowdy atmosphere at the Gabba.”
England (v Cricket Australia XI at Tony Ireland Stadium, Townsville): JE Root (Captain), MD Stoneman, AN Cook, JM Vince, DJ Malan, JM Bairstow (wkt), MM Ali, CR Woakes, C Overton, SCJ Broad, MS Crane.
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