England captain Joe Root urges the underdogs to take the fight to the Australians during the Ashes

Joe Root leads England into battle on Tuesday night vowing to put the record straight after two miserable Ashes tours by taking the fight to the Australians.

England’s captain was dropped during the 5-0 humiliation in 2013-14, then ended up stricken by illness at the end of his first tour in charge as the tourists lost 4-0 four years ago. 

Now he wants his underdogs to be brave when they take on Australia under new skipper Pat Cummins at the Gabba, at the start of five Ashes Tests squeezed into 42 days.


England captain Joe Root has urged his side to take the fight to Australia during the Ashes

The world’s No 1 Test batter has much to ponder ahead of the series opener on Tuesday night


‘I’m absolutely determined to put the record straight,’ said Root ahead of the biggest battle in Test cricket, which starts at midnight UK time.

‘If you look at the last two tours, our performances weren’t good enough and we can only expect better. This time we’re going to try to do things differently, because if we approach this series in the same way we’re likely to get similar results. It’s really important we are brave and take the game to Australia and we will have to be smart.’

Root believes England’s decision to drop him for the last Test of the whitewash eight years ago was the making of him. He is now the No 1 Test batsman in the world and is backing his team-mates to make names for themselves, too.

‘This is where a lot of careers are defined,’ said Root. ‘It can make your name to come over here and have great success. That opportunity is there for everyone to try to grasp and do something special.’

England will finalise their team on Tuesday after Root refused to ‘play mind games’ by emulating Cummins, who threw down the gauntlet by naming his side three days out from the Test.

Ollie Pope (above right) is expected to edge out Jonny Bairstow (left) as a middle-order batter

Ollie Pope is expected to edge out Jonny Bairstow, who made just 11 runs including a golden duck in England’s limited preparation period, and Root is still pondering whether to field an all-seam attack or go with spinner Jack Leach in unseasonably wet Brisbane.

Root was also preparing his team for an environment at the ‘Gabbatoir’ likely to be even more hostile than usual because of the lack of travelling English fans. Around 1,500 Queensland-based expats are expected to provide what support there is for England.

‘The guys who have been here before will never have experienced our fans not being here,’ added Root. ‘They are usually phenomenal. But I’m sure the Brisbane Barmies will come out in force here. We will just try to embrace the atmosphere.’

The Ashes rivals are sharing hotels because of Covid protocols, as opposed to keeping their customary distance.

And Root added: ‘There might be the odd awkward lift ride but hopefully that is as far as it goes. I’d like to think it will stay as just competitive and not over-run any sort of boundaries.’