England skipper Joe Root says first Test won't define the Ashes as he looks to show undoubted class in Australia

Joe Root says the result of England’s first Test against Australia will not define the upcoming Ashes series, as he looks to finally impose his greatness on a series Down Under.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 1:27 pm
England's captain Joe Root (L) inspects the pitch as ground staff look on during training at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 7, 2021, ahead of the opening Ashes Test cricket match between Australia and England. (Photo by Patrick HAMILTON / AFP)
England's captain Joe Root (L) inspects the pitch as ground staff look on during training at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 7, 2021, ahead of the opening Ashes Test cricket match between Australia and England. (Photo by Patrick HAMILTON / AFP)

The skipper, a product of Sheffield Collegiate CC, leads his side into the first Test in Brisbane, which starts at 12am UK time on Wednesday morning, knowing that England have not won at the Gabba since 1986 - losing six games and drawing two in the years since.

England have sprung something of a surprise by leaving out Jimmy Anderson, with the 39-year-old seamer fit but not selected as a precaution ahead of five Tests in six weeks.

Ollie Pope has been given the nod over Root’s Yorkshire teammate Jonny Bairstow, while Stuart Broad may also be left out if England decide to play spinner Jack Leach.

"Avoiding defeat would be a brilliant start to the series, absolutely," Root said.

“In many respects we've got nothing to lose coming here for this series.

"I don't think avoiding defeat will define the series but it'll certainly put us in a really strong position and give us a great opportunity moving forward into the rest of it.

“Ultimately we've just got to concentrate on what's right in front of us right now and starting the Test match well, getting into the series and managing everything else that goes around an Ashes first morning and taking the game from there.

"We've got a great chance in the circumstances that we find ourselves in to come and do something very special and we should take great confidence from that going into it."

The series is also another chance for Root to show his undoubted class in Australia, for the first time since his Test career began. In 17 innings Down Under, he averages just 38 – some way short of his overall Test average, which has gone back over 50 on the back of a prolific 2021 which has brought 1,333 runs so far.

"I'm an Ashes player and I want to live in the history of this great rivalry," Sheffielder Root added. "That is a carrot there for everyone."