‘Fed up’ Root urges damaged England to stand up in crucial Test
PERTH – Captain Joe Root has challenged his England team to stand up and keep the Ashes series alive in Thursday’s crucial third Test against Australia in Perth. Root, who admits he is “fed up” talking about off-field issues, said it was time for his teammates to prove why they have been chosen to play.
The tourists are on the precipice, trailing Australia 2-0 in the five-Test series, battling to avoid another heavy defeat that would hand back the Ashes urn to Steve Smith’s team. To keep the series alive Root’s men must not lose at the WACA Ground where England last won in 1978.
“It’s time to stand up,” Root said Wednesday. “These are the games that when you get them right, they really hit home with people. And that’s what people want to see — in the face of adversity, people stand up and really put in those big performances and prove why they have been selected to play for England. That’s the opportunity that’s in front of this group, to go and win here at the WACA for the first time in a long time, by playing well for longer. If we get that right, there is no reason we can’t be sat here at 2-1 next week.”
England are facing the spectre of repeating the 5-0 series humiliation on their last tour to Australia where Jonathan Trott returned home after the first Test, Graeme Swann retired and following the tour coach Andy Flower resigned.
Root admitted he was sick and tired with the team’s off-field alcohol-related incidents, which began before the tour when Ben Stokes was banned from international cricket while authorities probe his alleged involvement in a fight outside a nightclub. Scandals involving Jonny Bairstow and Ben Duckett have further harmed the touring team’s reputation.
“I’m fed up talking about stuff that’s not cricket,” Root told travelling English media earlier in the day. “We have to make sure we perform well this week and win. Get people talking about the cricket. This is a very professional group of players that goes about things in the right way. But we’ve had two incidents that have been blown up and made a big deal of. They could have been avoided. That’s the annoying thing, as you know, but a lot of people back home probably don’t, the stories are not a fair reflection of this team. But a lot of the stuff that’s being spouted is giving ammunition.”
He said it was frustrating and the team had to be “smarter”. Root, who has only been captain for nine Tests, added that he knew it would be a challenging role and there would be issues outside cricket, “but not to this extent”.
“You have to take it in your stride and learn from it — I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “I want to be concentrating on making sure we get things right on the field. That’s my job as captain. I’m trying to develop a team that over a long period can achieve success and do special things. One of this group’s big strengths is we do look after each other.”
The lads have done some stupid stuff but we care about each other. We’re in it together and we are only going to get back into this series if we stick together.”