Statistically Root has been his country’s most successful Test leader, surpassing even his mentor Michael Vaughan in the summer when he oversaw his 27th win over India at Headingley.
But he still doesn’t understand better Australia suffered a 4-0 defeat in his previous campaign Down Under, followed by a 2-2 draw in 2019, which saw the holidaymakers withhold the pitch.
So when Root stepped out for the First Test at The Gabba on Wednesday, he knew his reputation was in a straight line.
“Of course it will define my captaincy, I’m not naive enough to think it won’t,” he said at the series premiere that saw him face off against the latest opposite number of me, Pat Cummins
“If you look at how difficult it is for England captains and English teams (to win Australia) over the years, it’s not that often.
“But what a great opportunity. I’m so excited about that and can’t possibly want the series to continue. ”
The numbers make reading not easy. England only won 1 time behind the opponent’s attack in the last 8 away trips, lost 9 of the last 10 Challenges and drew the remaining goals.
The standout success of the 2010/11 season, when Sir Andrew Strauss won the famous 3-1, accounts for half of their Test wins in Australia over the past 30 years.
- First test: December 8-12 (Brisbane)
- 2nd Test: December 16-20 (Adelaide, D/N)
- 3rd Check: December 26-30 (Melbourne)
- 4th test: January 5-9 (Sydney)
- 5th Test: January 14-18 (Perth TBC)
For Root, that historical adversity is the perfect setting to do something special – not just for him as captain but for each of his teammates.
When asked if his team has what it takes to meet the challenge ahead, he said: “What better stage than to really capture a series and make an announcement in the international arena? To say, ‘I’m an Ashes player and I want to live in the history of this great rivalry’. That carrot is for everyone.”
While Australia have decided to go ahead with team selection, naming their XI three days early and confirming slots for Mitchell Starc and Travis Head, England are waiting for their time.
The warm-up event, which included a giant inflatable keg of Ashes and a few fireworks to set the mood, saw Root get knocked down by speed bowler Mark Wood and beat Ollie Pope .
Both of them hope, but are not certain, that will make the opening of the series. Wood’s additional venom makes him an attractive option at a location known for its lively surfaces, but poor weather forecasts and unusually green pitch mean swings and seams can are equally useful weapons.
“Obviously this place, they keep telling us it’s famous for the speed of bowling here, so I was hoping I could get a game,” Wood said.
“Hopefully if I get the nod, I’ll try and perform well. The bowling isn’t too short, that’s where you might get hooked. It’s true to say the right things at the moment, but when you go out and see the first person fly by, you feel like, ‘Oh, let’s get going’. ”
Pope, meanwhile, engaged in a head-to-head confrontation with the more experienced Jonny Bairstow to complete the British top six. If he gets the nod, Pope will ask Australian assistant coach Michael Di Venuto to remind him of the talent he helped nurture during their time together at Surrey.
“I worked closely with Diva, he was there for the first three years of my professional career as head coach and batting coach,” Pope said.
“He gave me a lot of confidence, he really supported me as a cricketer. Letting him judge you, like he did back then, is a great confidence boost. He had a big influence on me and gave me confidence in that Surrey team to get in that middle order, which helped me go to England. I owe him a lot but I doubt he would give too much if I caught him before the game.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cricket/joe-root-england-pat-cummins-australia-michael-vaughan-b1970026.html England captain Joe Root enthusiastically gears up for Ashes . series definition