With less than 48 hours remaining before England launches its Ashes defence at the ‘Gabbatoir’, captain Joe Root revealed that the defeat at the very same venue four years ago had shocked the visitors massively which decided the course of the series and the hosts ended up galloping Alastair Cook & Co. 5-0.
England had arrived in Australia after a highly successful year but were undone by a fired-up Mitchell Johnson who took a staggering 37 wickets as Michael Clarke & Co. completely bullied the visitors.
“Last time round we came here at the end of a year when we hadn’t lost a Test match,” Root said. “We had a very experienced side with a lot of guys who had won a lot of Ashes cricket and had great success on the last trip to Australia.
“It was a massive shock, and we struggled to come back from that,” he added.
However, Root believes the horrific memories of the last visit to Australia is irrelevant since the current England and Australian teams were ‘completely different’ from 2013-14.
“But this time round it is a completely different set of players. And we’re playing against a completely different Australia side,” he insisted. “So of course you want to harness those experiences and make sure you don’t fall into a similar trap. But both sides are in two very different places to where they were.”
But while Root is hoping that his team does not ‘fall into a similar trap’, the visitors will have to defy history to start the series on a good note. England haven’t won a Test at the Gabba since 1986 while Australia haven’t lost even once at their fortress since 1988.
The England skipper further labelled Nathan Lyon’s recent comments as ‘bizarre’ and insisted it could put the Australian players under pressure. Root also made it clear to mention the fact that England have earned the bragging rights of this fixture by winning four of the last five series.
“The more guys talk going into a series the more they put pressure on themselves,” Root said. “You can sort of see through it a little as well.
“We’ve won four of the last five Ashes series. We’ve a lot of guys who were part of the squad in the last series, in 2015, and have very fond memories of it. Maybe they are trying to brush that under the carpet but for me it’s completely irrelevant what happened four years ago,” he added.
Root went on to make an interesting remark on Australia’s much-talked-about pace attack comprising Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins in addition to insisting that the hosts would be under pressure to deliver at the venue where they haven’t lost for so long.
“They have a completely different bowling attack. Their seam bowlers haven’t played an Ashes series in Australia themselves,” he said. “And they haven’t lost at the Gabba for such a long time. So they are under pressure, too. It’s not just our team that is going to be feeling the heat, it is those guys as well.
“One thing Australia did very well last time was talking up certain things and they delivered. But this is a completely different tour and a completely different series and we have to make sure we don’t give them those opportunities this time,” he added.
Root is also aware of the hostile receptions that await him and his teammates but is not too worried about it.
“It will be quite hostile and potentially slightly intimidating but it shouldn’t scare us. It is part of Ashes cricket. It should excite us. We have a chance to do something that not many people do.
“We just need to find a way of concentrating on what we do best out in the middle. And remember that we’re not the ones out there. There are 16 or 17 guys in the dressing room who are all out there with you,” he said.
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