Joe Root: ‘Ashes will define my captaincy’

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Captain’s head-to-head with rival Pat Cummins could be major factor as Gabba Test looms

Captain Joe Root says England’s squad can win the big moments to secure an Ashes win in Australia and that he’d be foolish not to understand this series will define him.

Set for a third tour and second as captain – his first was his first overseas tour as skipper – Root will walk out at the Gabba on Wednesday as the world’s top-ranked Test batter in rare form.

But he’s yet to score a Test hundred in Australia and England, regularly humbled in Australian conditions for the past 30 years, are chasing their first Ashes series win away from home in a decade.

The rise of Pat Cummins to captaincy for Australia adds another element, with the pair’s head-to-head battle looming as a key factor.

“Absolutely it is, you look at how hard it has been for English captains and English teams over the years,” Root, who led a team that lost 4-0 in Australia’s last home Ashes series, said.

“It’s been something that doesn’t happen very often. Of course it will define my captaincy – I’m not naive enough to think that it won’t – but again, what a great opportunity.”

In his favour is the return of allrounder Ben Stokes, who showed form with bat and ball in last week’s warm-up game in an important first step back after a break from cricket since July.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad offer vast knowledge of Australian conditions for their pace battery that could include any of Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Ollie Robinson.

Stokes’ penchant for the big moment was on show at Headingley in 2019 while an exciting list of batters are waiting to follow his lead.

“Yeah, it has to be, absolutely it does,” Root said when asked if his side was ready to win the big moments. “You look at some of the players, some of the individuals, some of the performances guys have put in … the senior guys have done it time and time again.

“The junior guys have shown glimpses of what they can do and their potential. What better stage to really grab a series and make an announcement on the international stage. I’m an Ashes player and I want to live in the history of this great rivalry.

“That carrot is there for everyone.”

Root is yet to settle on his side, refusing to bite when asked if he would select an all-out pace attack for a Gabba green-top and leave out spinner Jack Leach.


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