Joe Root ready to lead from the front as Ashes gets underway
Joe Root, the England Test captain, is ready to lead from the front as his side begin their campaign to regain the Ashes this morning.
Root's England are unbeaten in a Test series against Australia on home soil since 2001, and the Sheffield batsman is determined to win his first Ashes as captain after leading his country into a 4-1 series defeat last time out Down Under.
Root will bat at three against Tim Paine's men, moving up a place to inject some experience into a top order including Jason Roy, Rory Burns and Joe Denly. That trio are all relatively new to Test cricket and were blown away in the first innings of last week's Test against Ireland.
"It's important to spread the experience out and it gives me an opportunity to lead from the front as well," Root said."I also feel now that I'm in a place where I have got my head around dealing with the captaincy and batting - being able to separate the two. It's an opportunity to make an impact up the order."No, I'm not concerned about the top order. I think it's a very exciting top order. Jason, I want him to go out and play in his own way and his own manner."He has the ability to go out and put any bowler under pressure at any given time. That's very exciting."
Root and Roy were key men in England's World Cup win earlier this summer, alongside the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes who will also line up against the Aussies.
Woakes retained his place after helping to blow away Ireland for just 38 at Lord's, while Jimmy Anderson plays after a recent injury scare.
Victory in the Ashes would cap a golden summer for English cricket, after Root and Co.'s World Cup success. But the skipper doesn't agree with suggestions that that success has taken the pressure off against the Aussies.
"I think you speak to anyone that has captained England on the verge of an Ashes series, to say that it doesn't mean as much as another event, I don't think any of them would agree," Root said.
"It's huge. It's a great opportunity. Cricket in this country is probably at an all-time high. It has interest it has not had for a long, long time. We have the opportunity as a team to make this summer a very memorable one."That's exciting and it's a great motivator for the whole squad. Ultimately it comes down to how we can break down Australia and how we are going to win enough games to win the series."
Jofra Archer, another of England's World Cup heroes, has been included in the squad, but isn't being risked as he recovers from a side injury.
"I wouldn't have named this side if I wasn't confident. We are very excited as a group," Root said."We have a good record here as a team. It's very important that we are very focused and very clear on how we want to approach this series and that first day in particular. We feel confident this group of players is more than capable of winning this Test match."Jofra is coming back from quite a serious injury. We looked at conditions and made a decision on what we thought would best take 20 wickets here."It also gives him time to get absolutely ready and fit to make sure he has his workloads up and ready to go for later in the series if he needs to make an impact. (His fitness) will be monitored throughout the week. It's important that he's ready to go to offer something different."