MELBOURNE, Australia (Reuters) – England were caught out by Australia’s aggression during the ill-fated 2013/14 Ashes campaign but captain Joe Root says they are fully prepared for short-pitched bowling and on-field chatter when the series kicks off in Brisbane next week.
Root was a member of Alastair Cook’s side that was demolished by a Mitchell Johnson-led pace assault and sledging relentlessly throughout the 5-0 series defeat four years ago.
Root, then 22, won praise for a defiant half-century in the Adelaide Test but, like the rest of the England batters, struggled to score runs on most of Australia’s pitches.
“I think last time it maybe caught us out,” Root told reporters yesterday in Townsville where England are preparing for their final warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI.
“I think we’re a little bit wiser to it this time around.
“It’s still about making sure we’re absolutely prepared for any scenario out there.
“We’re expecting it to be hostile, we’re expecting it to be very loud and rowdy atmosphere at the Gabba.
“Hopefully we’ll be in a really good place and really ready for that because I think we’ve got our heads round what to expect.”
With all-rounder Ben Stokes absent from the tour, Root will have a bigger load to carry in leading a team with a number of inexperienced batsmen.
Australia spinner Nathan Lyon said last week the home side’s bowlers would compete fiercely for the England captain’s wicket.
Root was unfazed by the attention.
“I’ve heard a lot of chat about them targeting me in particular,” he said.
“From our point of view we’ll be targeting every single one of them, we won’t be singling any guys out.
“Bring it on. It’s what it’s about. You want that competitive element and those little in-house rivalries, if you like.”
Former England captain and media pundit Michael Vaughan has accused Australia of making things hard for England in their preparations by serving up low-quality tour sides away from the Test venues.
The tourists will play another modest Cricket Australia XI in the remote northern city of Townsville from today.
Root said it was nothing different from the last tour.
“I think we’ve mentally approached that slightly differently this time round and probably slightly better, if I‘m being brutally honest,” he said.
“Obviously it would have been nice to get a feel for the grounds, especially for the guys who haven’t played at those venues.
“I don’t think it makes too much of a difference.”