Ashes 2017/18: Joe Root dismisses Australia’s “rubbish” and isn’t afraid of hostile crowd | Cricket | Sport

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The England captain is traditionally singled out by the Australians before any series. But Root is not only looking forward to the challenge but took the chance to take aim at the war of words being waged by the hosts.

David Warner got things started before the tourists had even arrived Down Under, the Australia opener likening the Ashes to “war” and admitting he geed himself up by fostering “hatred” towards England’s players.

Plenty has been said since, with a succession of Australians saying they will target Root as a way of trying to bring down England during the series that starts at the Gabba tomorrow week.

But Root is just looking forward to getting stuck in after finishing the last series at home two years ago, which England won 3-2, as his side’s leading runscorer.

“I just want the first Test to come round,” he said. “It’s been such a long wait. There’s been a lot of talk, some of it exciting and some of it a load of rubbish, especially from some of the Aussie players.

“I’ve heard a lot of chat about targeting me, in particular. From our point of view, we’ll be targeting every single one of them – we won’t be singling anyone out.

“To win a Test you’ve got to take 20 wickets and score more runs than them. Of course we’ll have plans in place for each individual player, but bring it on.

It’s what it’s about. It should be a great series.”

The 26-year-old knows he will be in the crosshairs of Australia’s partisan home crowds and pace attack, led by Mitchell Starc. But asked exactly what he thought being targeted meant, Root admitted: “I don’t really know – you go into every series expecting you’re going to get targeted, as a batter.

“People are going to look at your technique, look at ways you’ve got out and try to work out what’s the best way to combat your scoring runs.

“I don’t see how that will be any different from any other series. It’s something they use as a tool sometimes, to try to get the crowd and the public behind it – try to get on my back verbally.

“But in terms of how I’m going to prepare, it won’t be any different to any other major series – tempo, technique-wise in practice, but mentally it might be slightly different.

“If they’re wasting energy trying harder at me, then I hope that works well for the rest of the guys.”

Pat Cummins, who along with Starc and Josh Hazelwood will form Australia’s pace attack, yesterday insisted he will try to strike fear into England by reprising the role of Mitchell Johnson from four years ago.

Johnson’s raw pace gathered 37 wickets and inspired the hosts to a 5-0 whitewash on England’s last Ashes tour in 2013-14.

Cummins is the quickest of the current Australian pack but, six years after making his debut, has yet to play a Test at home.

Asked about Cummins’ comments, Root said: “Fear is not the right word. Respect probably is. They have a lot of quality in their attack, but we have lots of quality in our side too.

“These are the sorts of statements you expect flying around a week or two out from the first Test of an Ashes series.

“Intimidation is always the talk. Last time that caught us out, and we are a bit wiser this time.

“It’s making sure we are absolutely prepared for any scenario out there, and absolutely ready for that first game, whatever they do throw at us.

“We expect it to be hostile, we expect it to be a very loud and rowdy atmosphere at the Gabba. Hopefully we are in a good place and ready for that, because we have got our heads round what to expect.

“It’s now about making sure we do whatever we can to feel ready with the bat and the ball and going out there and delivering.”

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