Eng­land un­fazed by Aus­tralian banter ahead of Ashes opener

Kuwait Times - - Sports -

SYD­NEY: Eng­land cricket cap­tain Joe Root has dis­missed sugges­tions his team “feared” Aus­tralia’s fast bowlers, say­ing his play­ers were fully pre­pared for a hos­tile Ashes se­ries. Root said some English play­ers had been taken aback by the level of ag­gres­sion shown by their hosts when they lost 5-0 on their last tour of Aus­tralia four years ago, but in­sisted they were ready this time.

“Last time that caught us out, but we are a bit wiser this time,” Root said yes­ter­day on the eve of Eng­land’s third and last warm-up match for the first test in Bris­bane. “It’s mak­ing sure we are ab­so­lutely pre­pared for any sce­nario and ab­so­lutely ready for that first game, what­ever they do throw at us,” Root said. “We ex­pect it to be hos­tile. We ex­pect it to be a very loud and rowdy at­mos­phere at the Gabba.

“We are in a good place and ready for that. We have got our heads around what to ex­pect.” Root also brushed off sugges­tions the Aus­tralians planned to specif­i­cally tar­get him af­ter he man­aged just one half-century and av­er­aged less than 28 with the bat on his pre­vi­ous tour of Aus­tralia in 2013-14.

In 2015, Root made amends with two cen­turies and an av­er­age of more than 57 as Eng­land bounced back on home soil to re­gain the Ashes. “I’ve heard a lot of chat about tar­get­ing me, in par­tic­u­lar,” Root said. “From our point of view, we’ll be tar­get­ing ev­ery sin­gle one of them - we won’t be sin­gling any one out. But you want that com­pet­i­tive el­e­ment to it, and those lit­tle in-house ri­val­ries.”

Eng­land is un­beaten in its two warm-up matches so far in Aus­tralia and aim­ing to con­tinue its bright start dur­ing the four-day game against a Cricket Aus­tralia XI, start­ing in Townsville to­day. With the first test start­ing on Nov. 23, the tourists have made no se­cret of their plans, stick­ing with the same top six bats­men they used in the pre­vi­ous game. Mark Stone­man will again open with Alas­tair Cook, with James Vince bat­ting at three ahead of Root.

Dawid Malan comes in at five with wick­et­keeper Jonny Bairstow at six. All­rounder Moeen Ali re­turns at seven. Cricket Aus­tralia yes­ter­day said it would an­nounce a squad for the first two tests on Fri­day, amid grow­ing spec­u­la­tion about the makeup of the team. Sev­eral po­si­tions ap­pear un­de­cided with most ques­tions sur­round­ing who will open the bat­ting with Dave Warner, who will bat at No. 6 and who will be picked as wick­et­keeper. —AP

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