Joe Root talks about the Ashes preparation, says it’s going unusual

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England’s skipper Joe Root has admitted the fact that their preparations for the upcoming Ashes series are not being ideal as they are doing practice sessions under quarantine that starts from December 8 at Brisbane.

Rain played a spoilsport during the first warm-up game between the senior England side and England Lions and there are chances that the rain might come again with the two sides set to play a four-day fixture, starting from Tuesday (November 30).

This will be England’s final practice fixture before going for the opening Test at the Gabba. The players who were part of the T20 World Cup squad will join the rest of the squad for the warm-up fixture and Joe Root emphasized the need to be mentally prepared as the game-time in the middle is limited.

“It’s been unusual, having spent a period of time in quarantine and training within that quarantine phase, and then coming to Brisbane,”

Root told reporters. 

“We haven’t had that three-day game, as we would have liked, but ultimately, it was always going to be the case, at the back of this World Cup, that tomorrow was really the first day as a squad that we would get together, with those World Cup guys joining us.”

“We’ve done a lot of brilliant planning in the last couple of years, about mentally, how we can be ready, and what’s going to work on different surfaces and different grounds and having a real good idea of how we’re going to break down their team. But it has been unusual; it’s been different from a lot of previous tours, whether that be here or elsewhere.

“But the guys have taken the opportunities to get as much as they can from what they’ve had. And that’s all you really can do in these situations, along with mentally making sure you’re as ready as you can be. It might be that, in the next couple of days, we get some similar weather and we don’t get the time out there in the middle. But it’s really important that – whether you play those games in your mind a little bit more, visualize a little bit more, – you find different ways of making sure that, when that first ball comes down at the Gabba, we’re in the best place possible to come out.”

Root also clarified that the four-day fixture will not be considered as the first-class match as the team management is trying their best to add as maximum players on the park before the start of the Ashes.

“Ideally, we want that intensity to be as high as we can, as close to the Test matches as we can,”

Root said. 

“The quality of the players will be there from both teams and, because of the lack of preparation that we’ve had in that previous three-day game, having that extra bit of flexibility to make sure we can get as many guys what they need throughout these four days is going to be crucial.

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“But in terms of how we’ll approach it as two teams, there’s a lot of people that will want to prove things and will want to show that they deserve an opportunity for that first test match. So I expect the standards to be very high, and I expect it to be very competitive. And so it should be. This is a really good chance for us to get ahead of things, maybe get ahead of Australia in terms of preparation and game-time ahead of the series, and it would be silly for us to just cozy our way through the four days.”

Ben Stokes who was set to come back in the squad, was hit on the arm during the practice sessions, which raised concerns in the management. However, Root has cleared the doubts being raised on Stokes inclusions, says that he is being monitored by the specialists and will be fine soon.

“It was a bit of a concern,”

he observed.

“The wickets, because of the weather, have been slightly spicy and guys have really had to get stuff in. There have been a few little knocks here and there. To see Ben get hit like that was obviously a scary moment. We all know how crucial he is within our squad but he seems to have come through it pretty well. He practiced again today and again we’ll keep assessing, making sure it doesn’t have a prolonged effect on him. It’s going to be really important that he gets himself ready both physically and mentally for this series and to play a big part in it.”

Australia has been facing an of ups and downs in the past week after Tim Paine resigns from the Test captaincy following a scandal. With Pat Cummins leading the side, Root has clearly stated that there will be no change in the preparations and they will not take the opposition lightly.

“From our point of view, it doesn’t change anything,”

he stated.

“It doesn’t change how we are going to prepare, it doesn’t change how we respect them as a team and what they will bring to this series.

“I think more than anything I don’t want us as a team to get side-tracked by what is happening in their camp. It is really important we focus on ourselves and we ready ourselves as best we can. Playing against Pat, I know what a competitor he is and what he brings to their team. I expect him to do just that as a captain as well. But it is really important we focus on ourselves, get the most out of this lead-in, and don’t get distracted by anything that Australia is doing.”