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Joe Root accuses Australians of 'talking rubbish' and backs England to handle rowdy Ashes crowd

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 14/11/2017 Chris Stocks

Joe Root wearing a suit and tie: England Press Conference © REUTERS England Press Conference

England captain Joe Root has told Australia players they have been talking “rubbish” as the hosts attempt to unsettle their Ashes rivals.

Australia always single out the opposition captain ahead of an Ashes series and although Root is relishing being the target of special treatment, he has questioned some of the comments coming out of the home camp.

The mind games started with Aussie opener David Warner comparing the series to “war” while last week spinner Nathan Lyon said all of the home bowlers will be focusing on Root.

There is sure to be much more bravado before the First Test in Brisbane in nine days but Root is just looking forward to getting started.

“I just want the First Test to come round,” he said. “It’s been such a long wait. 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’ve heard a lot of chat about targeting me, in particular. From our point of view, we’ll be targeting every single one of them — we won’t be singling anyone out.

“To win a Test you have to take 20 wickets and score more runs than them. Of course, we’ll have plans in place for each individual player but bring it on. It’s what it’s about. It should be a great series.”

Pat Cummins, who along with Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will comprise Australia’s pace attack at the Gabba, ramped up the phoney war when he said he wanted to take on the role of England’s destroyer-in-chief that Mitchell Johnson played in the 2013-14 Ashes series.

Johnson’s 37 wickets inspired the hosts to a 5-0 whitewash four years ago. And Cummins, whose injury problems have yet to see him play a home Test since making his debut six years ago, said: “I would love to be that bowler, along with Starcy, who can run in and bowl in short spells flat out as fast as we can. That’s a role I would like to play.”

Australian fans embrace Johnson, who took 37 wickets in the 2013-14 Ashes (Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard Limited Australian fans embrace Johnson, who took 37 wickets in the 2013-14 Ashes (Getty Images)

Asked if England were scared of the 24-year-old, Root said: “Fear is not the right word. Respect probably is. They have a lot of quality in their attack, but we have lots of quality in our side, too.

“These are the sorts of statements you expect flying around a week or two out from the first Test of an Ashes series.”

There was a feeling during the 2013-14 Ashes that England were ambushed by Johnson’s increased accuracy, consistency and — above everything else — his raw pace.

Root admitted that was indeed the case but insists his players will not be taken by surprise by anything that is throw at them from either Australia’s players or the partisan home crowd at the Gabba next week.

“Intimidation is always the talk,” he said. “Last time that caught us out but I think we are a bit wiser this time.

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“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.

“Hopefully, we are in a good place and ready for that, because I think we have got our heads round what to expect. It’s now about making sure we do whatever we can to feel ready with the bat and the ball and going out there and delivering.”

England will start their final four-day warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI here in Townsville on Wednesday.

Root offered a clue as to the tourists’ likely XI for Brisbane when he confirmed they would make just two changes from the last match — played against the same opposition — in Adelaide last week.

That will mean Moeen Ali, who has recovered from the side strain that ruled him out of the first two tour matches, come in for the injured Jake Ball and Stuart Broad, rested in Adelaide, replace James Anderson, who was always going to miss this match but was struck down with illness overnight.

Ball strained ankle ligaments while bowling last week but the inclusion of Craig Overton in the team for the final warm-up suggests he will play at the Gabba because England cannot be sure of Ball’s fitness without testing him out in a match situation before then.

The presence of Mason Crane in the XI for Townsville, the leg-spinner having played the first two tour matches as well, also suggests England are still worried about Moeen’s injury.

“The selection for this game gives us a good indication of where we’re at,” added Root. “Craig has done really well, but all of the bowlers have done themselves proud.”

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