It looks England Test captain Joe Root is all geared up to face the wrath of the Australian fans, as he has challenged the public from Down Under to make him a ‘pantomime villain’ when his team will arrive for the iconic Ashes in the summer.
Root, who has proved his captaincy mettle by leading the Three Lions to an impressive 3-1 series victory over South Africa, said that the challenge for his team would be to “experience that [hostile atmosphere] and not let it faze us”.
England’s batting mainstay had a terrible time when he visited Australia in 2013/14, as England suffered an embarrassing 5-0 whitewash. Root is new to captaincy but he is one of the most experienced players in the team and is ready to guide the youngsters.
“I think so, it’s part and parcel of being a senior player and more established in the side,” he said. “You take that responsibility. You can’t choose who they pick on but it’s a challenge Test cricket throws up on occasion. If you’re going to survive in it, you have to find a way to deal with it.”
Senior fast-bowler Stuart Broad was one of the players who was given a hostile reception by the Australian public during the last visit. The right-arm pacer earned the Aussie fans’ wrath during the last tour when he refused to walk even after getting a thick outside edge that was caught by Michael Clarke at slip in the first Test at Trent Bridge.
However, Broad managed to give a fitting reply to the Australian fans by picking up an impressive 21 wickets.
Root is hoping that Broad being a part of the team would take a little bit heat off him.
“Stuart going back there might take a little bit of heat off me. We all like a pantomime villain so it will be interesting to see who they target ahead of that tour. It just adds to the whole occasion. Certain characters like Stuart thrive on that, so hopefully, they pick a good villain who enjoys it and it works to our advantage,” he said.
Root further admitted that he needs to warn the newcomers of what to expect Down Under.
“I think it’s important to,” he said. “You don’t want to go out there and it just hit you like a train. You want to make sure you’re fully aware of what’s coming your way.
“Last time there were a few chants from the crowd that were quite personal at times. Quite offensive. I was slightly surprised. I thought they might give us a bit of banter but it was a bit more than that.
“At Brisbane, a beach ball came on the field and they wanted me to throw it back. Someone said something a bit rude so I just chucked it to the steward, who popped it. For the rest of that day it carried on with not very nice words,” he added.
The England star also had a word of praise for Australian fans’ passion for the game and the desire to see their team win.
“They’re so passionate about cricket and desperate to win. When you get a full house and it’s rocking and the crowd are involved it makes a very entertaining spectacle to watch and also to play in. It’s great if you can go out there with everyone against you and put in a match-winning performance,” he said.
“That’s one of the greatest things in professional sport, to come over those difficult periods and prove your worth. It’s important as a side we look at it as an opportunity. You do get a hard time but when you win it’s that bit more enjoyable,” he added.