England news March 29, 2017

'I won't be caught cold on Ashes return' - Root

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Taylor tips Root to thrive as captain

Joe Root admits he was shocked by his first experience of Test cricket in Australia but has promised he will be much better prepared when England return for the Ashes at the end of the year.

Root, England's newly appointed Test captain, went to Australia in 2013-14 as a 22-year-old with a growing reputation as England's finest young batsman. But by the end of the series he had been dropped, England had been defeated 5-0 and he concedes he was "caught cold" by the hostility of the experience.

Greeted by abusive crowds, even more abusive opponents and an excellent fast-bowling attack led by Mitchell Johnson, Australia provided a far from gentle welcome. And while Root managed 87 in the second innings in Adelaide, it was the only time he reached 30 and he was dropped, with a series average of 27.42, after the fourth Test.

"That first Test match at Brisbane, when I walked out to bat, I think it did it hit me quite hard," Root said. "It was like I walked into a conservatory door: I was not aware at all that it was there.

"For large periods of that trip, I was spending my time and energy working on things that other people said I needed to work on; getting forward; a bigger stride; getting into the ball. But in reality, they were bowling 95mph bouncers, so it was pointless.

"But I will be slightly more aware this time. I won't be caught cold. I know what to expect from what can be quite a hostile environment."

Root is determined that other young players - and Haseeb Hameed would appear to be a prime example - should not be similarly exposed this time.

Joe Root: "I won't be caught cold in Australia" © BRUT Sport Style

"I think it's very important that the guys that haven't been there get a good idea of what it can be like," he said. "They shouldn't be afraid of it. They should try to embrace it and enjoy it. It's not always easy to enjoy it, but that tour is a great opportunity for this team.

"I think I've done all my learning from that tour already. I came back from it and thought: just strengthen all the things that have served you very well for long periods of time and slowly but surely work on the rest of it. From that I gained a lot of confidence. It was a really good way, from being in quite a difficult spot, of feeling good again."

If England are to win in Australia, Root knows that he will have to score heavily. So, odd though it may sound, he says the piece of advice he has most taken to heart since he became captain, is to ensure his own game is in order.

"I've had a lot of people provide quite similar advice," he said. "But the one thing that's really stuck out is 'just make sure you look after your own game and concentrate on scoring as many runs as possible.'

"That might come across as quite selfish. But I think it's going to be very important for me, mentally as well, to put in the work and set the right example when the opportunities arise."

He doesn't have to look far to find examples of talented young batsmen who appear to have thrived with the responsibility of leadership. Steve Smith, in particular, has batted exceptionally well in recent times, with Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson also highly impressive.

"They are great examples of taking that responsibility and making it a real asset to their games," Root said. "It's a good opportunity for me to do exactly the same. Over the last couple of years my consistency has been fantastic. But between 50 and 100 there have been far too many occasions when I have got out.

"On a few occasions I have been got out, but the majority of the time it has been a lapse of concentration and that's not good enough. I'm going to have to make sure that moving forward I set a really good example by going on and trying to make sure I make the most of those good starts and be a little bit more ruthless.

"In the past, the more responsibility I've been given, I've generally responded well to it. Hopefully that will be the same."

Root has enjoyed success in home Ashes series, but his maiden tour of Australia was another story © Getty Images

Root is also confident that, while his England will play tough cricket - "There have occasions in the past when we probably have folded a little too easily," he admitted - they will be able to retain good relationships with their opponents.

"I don't think there was too much bad blood in our series against India," he said. "There were a few of our guys who were quite passionate and vocal and Virat and a few of his guys were the same. If you understand and respect that and you don't take it too far and make it personal then I don't know what the issue is.

"There's nothing wrong with going and having a beer after the game. It is quite nice actually, if someone has really laid into you for five weeks and then you go up to them with a beer and make them feel really uncomfortable. It's quite good when you can ask them some difficult questions like 'how's the missus? How's the kids?' And see how they respond to it.

"It is good that we are open to that as a side and hopefully other teams are as well."

Joe Root and James Anderson were speaking on behalf of BRUT Sport Style, the new fragrance from men's grooming brand BRUT

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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