Skip to content

Joe Root says hostile crowd in first Ashes Test in Brisbane can benefit England against Australia

Joe Root knows full well what to expect from the Australia crowd ahead of Ashes opener; England captain believes his team can use crowd's hostility to give them a boost; the first Ashes Test gets under way at the Gabba on Wednesday

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Joe Root says preparations have all been geared towards making sure the team are ready mentally and physically

Joe Root believes the hostile environment awaiting England in their Ashes opener in Brisbane can help bond his side even closer together as they attempt to reclaim the urn behind enemy lines.

Touring England teams are routinely treated to a fierce welcome in Australia, nowhere more so than at The Gabba, a 42,000-capacity cauldron which has earned the grimly affectionate nickname 'The Gabbatoir'.

That is where the 2021/22 campaign will get under way on Wednesday, with the first ball going down at 10am local time or midnight in the UK, and the reception for Root's team is likely to be even more fierce than usual.

Coronavirus travel restrictions mean the noisier elements of the Barmy Army will be tuning in from home rather than making themselves heard from the stands, with a reduced contingent of around 1,000 Queensland-based expats holding the fort.

Australia's Pat Cummins (Right ) and England's Joe Root during the Ashes Series Launch at The Gabba in Brisbane, Australia.
Image: Australia's Pat Cummins (right) and Root during the Ashes Series Launch at The Gabba in Brisbane, Australia.

And while that means the atmosphere will be highly partisan, Root sees a chance to build a siege mentality with his team-mates.

"It's an opportunity for us to get really tight and stand up to that. It's going to have to be," he said. "More than anything we just need to make sure it doesn't affect the way we go about things on the field. We'll just embrace it, enjoy the atmosphere and try to thrive off that sort of arena as much as we can.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Root is pleased to see Ben Stokes back in the England fold with the all-rounder set to play in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane

"It is hard to know because the guys who've been here before will have never experienced the fans not being there. We always appreciate the support we get away from home, it's phenomenal, and I'm sure the Brisbane Barmies will come out in force and do everything they can to support us here at The Gabba."

Also See:

The crowd is not the only thing England will be looking to overcome this week, as they look to shake off an ignominious recent history at the ground.

Root was not even born the last time his country triumphed at Australia's stronghold in 1986, when Mike Gatting was captain and Stuart Broad's father Chris opened the batting. Since then it has been a tale of woe comprising six
resounding defeats and two draws.

England's Joe Root ( Right ) and Australia's Pat Cummins during the Ashes Series Launch at The Gabba in Brisbane, Australia.
Image: Root and Cummins face off in Brisbane on Wednesday

Root's previous visit as captain four years ago ended in a 10-wicket thrashing, but he is eager to snap the streak - just as he did when England defeated South Africa in Cape Town last year, their first Newlands win since 1957.

"(Victory) would absolutely set us up for the rest of the series and it's a great opportunity," he said. "This group of players, not that long ago, went to Cape Town where we've not won a Test for a long period of time and off the back of a performance there won the series.

"I feel like we have been able to do that around the world and this is an opportunity to do that here. Obviously conditions are slightly different to home, at this venue in particular with that extra bit of bounce, but we have prepared as well as we can for that. If we manage that well we should give a really good account of ourselves and start well."

England's Joe Root during the Ashes Series Launch at The Gabba in Brisbane, Australia.
Image: Root was captain when England lost 4-0 in Australia in 2017/18

England trained on Monday afternoon, getting another look at an unusually green pitch. It is likely to take on a different complexion before newly-appointed Australia skipper Pat Cummins tosses the coin, but with more rain forecast during the match itself Root is in no hurry to follow the home side's lead by offering up his teamsheet.

There are decisions to be made among the bowling group, as well as between Ollie Pope and Jonny Bairstow for the final batting spot, but Root was keeping his cards close to his chest.

"I'm not into mind games, I'm just not in a position right now to name our team," he said.

"Fair play that they have announced their XI. It doesn't really change anything for me, we'll go about our business how we want to and let you know when we're ready."

Head relishing Robinson reunion

Australia's Travis Head is looking forward to facing Sussex team-mate Ollie Robinson at The Ashes
Image: Australia's Travis Head is looking forward to facing former Sussex team-mate and England seamer Ollie Robinson

All eyes are on the first Test in Brisbane - a game that will reunite Travis Head and Ollie Robinson after the pair shared a dressing room for Sussex during the summer.

Head has beaten out Usman Khawaja to claim the No 5 slot in Australia's side and knows just what to expect from his recent county colleague when they meet in the middle.

"I've played a little bit of cricket with Ollie and he's a great competitor. He plays aggressive, bowls aggressive, and that's what our expectation is," Head said.

"He does that day in, day out at Hove and we've seen it in Test cricket too. He is someone who has burst onto the scene for them and I think he'll suit the conditions really well in Australia, so we've got to make sure we're 100 per cent on our game to combat that.

"All of our guys have done their research on him but I have some experience with him so if they guys need it we can chat about that."

Around Sky