Ashes 2017/18: Joe Root Vows To Use Steve Smith’s Laughter As Motivation
Steve Smith laughed when Cameron Bancroft was explaining a packed media conference how Jonny Bairstow ‘head-butted’ him after the first Test has not gone down well with Joe Root. The England skipper has said his team will use the incident as a much-needed motivation to hit back in the crunch the second Test, scheduled to start on Saturday (December 2) in Adelaide.
Root made his feelings clear at the sight of his Australian counterpart convulsing with laughter shortly after England were thrashed by ten wickets in the first Test added salt to England’s wounds.
“I think their line and our line are slightly different things, let’s leave it at that,” Root said ahead of the second game.
“To see a reaction like that in a press conference is I mean if that can’t get you up for the next game then I don’t know what can. If that’s not motivation to the players, I don’t know what is.
“Hopefully that will work massively in our favour. I know it’s an Ashes series, there is a lot on the line and naturally you are going to be motivated for every game but knowing the characters in our dressing-room that will really give them a bit of something else to make sure we put things right this week,” he added.
With the Jonny Bairstow-incident nearly unsettling the visitors during the series-opener, Root further said it has now become a trend for Australia to treat the visiting teams. Citing the ‘mint-gate’ incident involving Faf du Plessis, Root said:
“I think it’s something you expect when you come here now. You look at Faf-gate last year and there were comments last time we were here as well with Trotty and other players. It’s part of touring Australia now I think.
Even before the start of the series, Australia made sure to get under the skin of the English players with their verbal volleys. Opening batsman David Warner began the proceedings by calling the series ‘war’ before spinner Nathan Lyon made some huge comments.
However, Root is unfazed by all the ploys as he said:
“It’s a strategy they use on occasions and we’ve got to move forward as a team. We all knew it was blown widely out of proportion.”
Root soon turned his attention towards the playing part, singling out the positive from the humiliating defeat at the Gabba. The right-handed batsman said that Australia were rescued by Steve Smith’s unbeaten century before explaining what his team needs to do to make a comeback in the series.
“Take Steve Smith’s innings out of it and they were 160 all out in the first innings,” he said. “We made him work extremely hard for his runs and kept him very quiet by his standards. By doing that it built pressure at the other end and we took wickets.”
“In terms of our batting, we need to do what we did in the first innings for longer. The way we went about it and, in particular, how the inexperienced guys handled pressure situations was really promising. But promising doesn’t win you Test matches.
“We have to turn those two-and-a-half hour periods into full days of cricket. If we do that we’ll win games. If we scored 400 plus in that first innings and were really clinical with the ball when we had them seven down, I have every confidence we would have won that game,” he added.
England, meanwhile, will have their task cut out in the upcoming game which will be the first day-night Test. Australia have played three day-night Tests so far with two of them being at Adelaide and have won both of them. On the other hand, England have played only one day-night game till date which they by an innings and 209 runs against West Indies. However, Root feels the warm-up game the team played in Adelaide before the series has familiarised the players with the conditions.
“The pink ball game has come at a good time for us. We played at this ground a couple of weeks ago and have a good idea of what the conditions can be like. It might be a little bit cooler as well, looking at the forecast, with a bit of rain around, so you are looking at more English style conditions. You saw at Brisbane that as soon as the ball did do anything sideways, we were massively in the game,” he said.
“That is going to be our big focus moving forward: being ruthless as a bowling unit and getting the ball moving laterally. We have to find ways to get stuff out of the wicket when it is slightly flatter and if we can do that I have full confidence we will bowl them out cheaply on a number of occasions on this tour,” he added.
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