The Ashes 2013-14 December 1, 2013

Bring on the bouncers - Root


Joe Root has batted at No. 3 in Adelaide before. Three summers ago, at Woodville Oval, he walked in at the fall of the first wicket for Prospect's A grade side, and nudged his way to 14 and 52 in a first-innings victory for the hosts.

Though a Woodville bowling attack including Chadd Sayers, Ken Skewes and Kyron Burgess suffers considerably by comparison to Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle, the apprenticeship in Adelaide grade cricket played a major role in sculpting Root's technique and temperament. It will become more valuable than ever should he find himself promoted to replace Jonathan Trott in an Ashes Test match England are desperate to win after the horrors of their opening defeat in Brisbane.

"If I get the chance to do it it'll be a great experience and a good challenge for me and I look forward to doing it, but if not then fine," Root said with typical equanimity. "When you go out there you get in a number of situations and you make sure you're well equipped to deal with them. I'll be making sure I prepare well over the next couple of days and go into that Test match whether at three or five comfortable and confident and ready to go."

Johnson's pace and physical threat caused grave difficulties for England at the Gabba but Root was a rare batsman who appeared to improve against him as the match went on, atoning for a skittish 2 in the first innings by fighting to an unbeaten 26 while the game was lost around him in the second. He also showed little sign of buckling under Australia's verbal barrage, perhaps another sign that a spell of Australian club cricket served to thicken his 22-year-old skin.

"It was probably close to it, yeah," Root said when queried on whether Johnson's bowling in Brisbane was the quickest he had faced. "It's great. That's why you play Test cricket, to get into battles like that, to get into confrontations like that and try to be successful in those situations. Bring it on on Thursday. It should be good fun.

"Whether you like it or not you've got to deal with it on the field and find your own way of coping with it. I quite enjoyed being out there, and the battles you get and all the rest of it are part of the game and something I'm sure will continue throughout the series. If we perform well that's the best way of counteracting it."

Root said he looked back fondly on his Adelaide experiences of 2010-11, which included time alongside a fellow recruit to the club from beyond the South Australian border - a young finger spinner by the name of Nathan Lyon. By the end of the summer Lyon had graduated to play for SA and was soon bowling for the Test team, while Root went on to earn his county cap for Yorkshire in 2012 and made his England debut later that year in India.

"I played with Nathan, that was the season he started there as well. I got to know him quite well and it's quite interesting being on the opposite side now," Root said. "I had five months here and really enjoyed my time and worked really hard on my game; the season after I made my first-class debut. Playing with other lads in a similar position to me trying to make their way in first-class cricket was beneficial for me coming through and trying to better myself.

"As I've only been playing for a year and as quite a young lad you've got to find your feet in the international arena, there've been different obstacles to overcome and I just want to keep trying to improve, keep bettering myself as a player and that's all I can really do. If I want to survive in this environment I have to find a way to do it, so it's about scoring as many runs as I can and finding ways to do it."

Root's desire to improve will be matched this week by England, as they strain to regather their former poise after losing much psychological and physical ground at the Gabba. It is a scenario they have become familiar with on overseas tours, and like Root in Adelaide, the benefits of that past experience will be better known from Thursday.

"It's always nice to know you've done it before, and this England team has showed it over the last three years," Root said. "It is something we certainly want to do this Test match."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naveen on December 2, 2013, 18:57 GMT

    Clever fella Joe root -- Calls for bouncers on a Flat Track...Apparently he knows a thing or two about picking his battle's.

    It remains to be seen if he would do the same before Perth Test. think Not!!

  • ian on December 2, 2013, 18:40 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster on (December 1, 2013, 17:58 GMT. Seasons' Greetings, Cpt M! Just occasionally you come up with a comment with which I'm in total agreement. This is one. As you say, JR is a young man whose enthusiasm for playing cricket (whether for his county or country) is only matched by the pride that he feels in the honour of so doing. He knows that he still has much to learn & appreciates that he'll only get better by pitching himself against the best. And do you know what? I am no judge of a cricketer if young Joe isn't in the foothills of a tremendous career. What he has between his ears already shows that he's got the positive attitude that breeds confidence that, in turn, will allow him to express himself with bat in hand. Provided he doesn't get ahead of himself (and I don't see that in his cheerful but grounded make-up), he should go on to make a substantial contribution to the Eng team's cause. For now, let's sit back & enjoy what he has to offer, smiles and all!

  • Harry on December 2, 2013, 16:00 GMT

    This is interesting. While it remains to be seen if Root can walk the talk but his attitude is spot on. The current Aus bowlers are not unplayable like the former greats such as McGrath and Warne. Take Mitch to the cleaners for couple of overs and he will start losing his rhythm. Make Harris toil for 10 overs without a wicket and his body starts crashing. The only real danger is Siddle who is fit, consistent and accurate. Lyon is not a breakthrough bowler.

    Eng needs to accept the fact that they are not superstars and need to earn their ranking like everybody else in overseas tours. Cook and KP are the key to their chances of fighting back - they need to dig in and play long innings and Root should come in at 3 or 4. Drop Prior and get Bairstow in and get Bresnan back in.

    Bresnan is accurate and can bat quite a bit with Broad and Swann down the order.

    If at all anyone can give back it will be KP against Mitch. Then the series will be fun!

  • Gopalakrishna on December 2, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    Joe Root won't be tested with short pitched balls I think and the same happened in Gebba. They test other batsmen with that while he is at non-strikers end and get his wicket with a full swinging ball while he anticipates short ball. That would be Aussies plan. First of all I suggest to all England players to stop talking until they win a test match in this series. That will be the right approach than talk and fail on the field and get more criticism. Adelaide too I feel England will lose, that is my gut feeling. As long as Aussies play well of Swan there is no threat to them from other England bowlers.

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    Hostility from fans, cricketers, pundits, media, its flippin hilarious....can't we all just enjoy the cricket for once?

  • Cameron on December 2, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    Gotta admire his attitude but it doesn't change the fact he hasn't made a run in eons. I'd be delighted to see him at 3, it's always great to get KP in early.

  • richard on December 2, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    Do not try this reverse psychology on the Aussies it will not work Rootie, they will be bowling up to you pal (unless you find your front foot).

  • Richard on December 2, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    No need to ask Joe, I assume our lads had that in mind anyway, but nice to know that you're keen I guess.

  • Daison on December 2, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    So much for the hype when Eng became No1 Test Team - that Eng was going to stay at No1 for at least a decade! Yeah, you read that right - some of the former Eng players were claiming such things... Yes they punch above their weight but to sustain that level like the Australians did, require talent.

  • Daison on December 2, 2013, 5:32 GMT

    Root has chosen the moment to talk very very carefully. He didnt speak before the first test and he didnt wait for third test (at WACA) to talk. He talked before the second test - where he has the best chance to do anything with the short ball if at all. He might just get away with this one. If he save the face in second test he will get tougher challenge in third at WACA. If he fails in second test, then Englad may well get a replacement for him for the series.

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