England captain Joe Root is confident his team will take part in next week’s first fully prepared Ashes Test despite the lack of playing time in Australia.
England managed just 29 overs in their first warm-up game against the Lions last week due to the weather, with thunderstorms forecast for at least part of their last pre-Ashes game in Brisbane against the same opposition from tomorrow.
Australia’s own preparations have also been hampered by the weather, with the Ashes’ hosts examining possible contingency plans for their own scheduled game against Australia A starting on Wednesday.
Regardless of the outcome of the week, Root said of the build-up: “It’s been unusual and different from a lot of previous tours, but the guys really grabbed the opportunities to make the most of what they were doing. have had and all you can do in these situations is to be as prepared as possible.
“We may have similar days and we don’t have time in the middle, then you play a little more games in your mind or find ways where, when the first ball falls. [of the Ashes], we are in the best possible place.
England have not won an Ashes series on Australian soil since 2010-11 and have lost nine tests and made only one in their 10 Down Under games since that series more than ten ago years.
But Root, who suffered a loss in the Australian Ashes series, is confident he and his England side can finally turn that tide.
He said: “I know exactly what it’s like to be on the wrong side of a series here. For an English player, playing against Australia and winning here is the dream, the icing on the cake. We feel that we have a brilliant opportunity ahead of us.
“If we can control our emotions and play at our skill levels and be smart in certain situations and do things differently than we’ve done before, I think we have a great opportunity to do something special here.”
The series was hit by all kinds of construction uncertainties. The Perth test is only seen as a 50-50 chance to go, with either Melbourne or Sydney potentially lined up to host what would be the fifth and final test in the series.
Additionally, the latest Omicron variant of Covid-19 has cast doubt on the ability of some gaming families to fly to Australia for Christmas.
Root already has his wife and two children in Australia and has said he is confident the ECB will do everything in its power to help the players.
“I think throughout this the ECB has supported the players extremely well,” he said. “They know how much they [our families] are ours. I am sure they are doing their best to make the most of this situation.
“We are in the hands of the Australian government and the local government and we cannot do more.”
England’s preparation for the five-test series was boosted by news that all-rounder Ben Stokes had not been affected by a forearm hit in the net. Stokes feared he’d broken it, but took part in full training in Brisbane today ahead of tomorrow’s four-day game.
Of Stokes’ injury, who has just returned to England, Root said: “Seeing Ben get hit like that was scary. We all know how crucial he is in our team and he seems to have done well and he trained again today. It’s really important that he prepares himself physically and mentally for this series and that he plays a big role in it.
As England timidly enter the Ashes game, Australia have had their own issues with Tim Paine stepping down as captain after the emergence of historical sexually explicit text messages. Pat Cummins has since been named captain, but Root has insisted any potential trouble in the Australian camp will have no bearing on England.
“It’s not really for us to worry or worry about,” he said. “It’s about preparing ourselves as best we can. It is important that we focus on ourselves properly… and not get distracted by what Australia is doing.