Joe Root fancies the shellacking England’s Twenty20 side handed out to Australia last Saturday has increased confidence before the Ashes campaign, even if the personnel, format and conditions will differ from the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
England’s tour of Australia officially gets under way on Thursday when a squad of 13 red-ball specialists – including the recently added Ben Stokes – and 15 Lions players fly to Queensland to begin preparations for the five-match series that starts at the Gabba on 8 December.
Of the five players set to join them after the World Cup – the final of which is on 14 November – four played in the eight-wicket group stage win against Australia, although only Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan appear certain starters in the Test side. Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes will push for spots, while Mark Wood, yet to feature in the UAE because of an ankle injury, will have to prove his fitness.
Nevertheless, along with the significance of India winning in Australia this year, Root sees some relevance from a short-form victory over a team that included five Test regulars in David Warner, Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.
“India proved to the rest of the world that Australia is not a place you can’t go and win,” Root said. “They took them on in their own way, they played to their strengths, but they didn’t take a backward step at any stage. It’s making sure we do the work now and we give ourselves that confidence.
“And also probably try and lean on that confidence and performance the T20 side put in the other night. There will be guys from both teams involved in that series and you want to try and capture as much confidence as you can.”
The start of the Ashes tour will be like no other before it. England’s players and a backroom staff initially led by Graham Thorpe are expected to touch down in Brisbane and then travel to a resort on the Gold Coast for a two-week quarantine period where they will spend the first three days isolating in hotel rooms.
The enlarged squad will then be allowed time outside and begin training at the multipurpose Metricon Stadium in Carrara; once the fortnight is complete, further freedoms in line with local restrictions will follow, even if the focus will be on the two intra-squad matches that serve as their only warm-up cricket.
A bubble of sorts will still be in place and mindful of the need to establish protocols on the ground and avoid any breaches, the England and Wales Cricket Board is understood to be flying out Steve Elworthy for the first month of the tour in what represents a final outing for the director of events before he takes up his new role as Surrey’s chief executive.
Elworthy masterminded the ECB’s behind-closed-doors summer of 2020 and the bubbles that prevented any Covid-19 cases; as Root stressed on Tuesday after a training session at Loughborough, it is imperative the players remain respectful of the rules, even if bubble life is grating after 18 months.
On England’s own experience of facing India during the summer, a series they finished 2-1 down but will not be decided until the rescheduled fifth Test next year, Root said: “There were a couple of occasions when games could have gone either way and India just grabbed it ahead of us.
“We have to have the bit between our teeth and stand up at those key moments and say: ‘Right, we are going grab this game,’ and make sure that we are the ones in that tight moment who get across the line and get the win. It’s a great lesson for us all.
“I’m very wary about commenting too much on Australia, I don’t think that’s the right approach for us. It’s never really been something that we’ve paid too much attention to.
“We’ll do our research and make sure we’re very well prepared for what Australia are likely to throw at us, but ultimately we need to make sure our own house is in order, that we’re as ready as we can be.”