Make me public enemy No.1: Root | cricketnetwork.com

Make me public enemy No.1: Root

14 August 2017

Joe Root is preparing to be targeted by boisterous crowds this summer // Getty

England skipper warns his players to expect a hostile reception in Australia this summer

England captain Joe Root has challenged the Australian public to make him a pantomime villain when his team arrive for the Magellan Ashes later this year.

The Yorkshireman has only experienced one previous Ashes tour, when England were hammered 5-0 in the summer of 2013-14.

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And ahead of the next installment, Root has not only warned his players to expect a hostile reception in Australia but spoken of his desire to take the focus off the rest of the squad by becoming public enemy No.1.

"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."

It’s a role Stuart Broad revelled in during the 2013-14 series, the bowler taking 21 wickets at 27.52 despite the fact England were whitewashed. Broad was targeted after failing to walk during the opening Ashes Test of the previous northern summer at Trent Bridge, with one newspaper going as far as not to refer to him by name or carry his picture.

"Stuart going back there might take a little bit of heat off me," said Root. "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."

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Yet Root is aware that he will have to warn those who have not experienced an away Ashes series before – likely to be six of the XI for the opening Test at the Gabba – of what to expect.

"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.

"The thing to remember, even if it doesn't seem it at the time, is it's generally in good spirit and they're just trying to create an atmosphere for their side.

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"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. 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. Our challenge is to experience that and not let it faze us and hopefully come back with that little urn."

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series


First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets


Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets


Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets


Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets


Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets


ODI Series v England


First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets


Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets


Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets


Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets


Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF


Prime Minister's XI


PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets


T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series


First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets


Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets


Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets


Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14


Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16


Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18


Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21


About the Writer

 @StocksC_cricket
@StocksC_cricket

Chris Stocks is a freelance cricket writer based in London. He is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent and London Evening Standard.