LONDON (Reuters) - England’s new test captain Joe Root will seek to bolster his leadership skills with big scores and has promised to ensure the side are better prepared to defend the Ashes in Australia than they were on the previous trip.
Root has emerged as England’s batting mainstay since his debut in 2012 and took over as skipper last month after Alastair Cook stepped down from the role following the side’s 4-0 loss in the five-test series in India at the end of 2016.
Root was also part of the squad that were blanked 5-0 in Australia in 2013-14 and the form of the world’s third-ranked test batsman will be crucial if England are to hold on to the Ashes trophy they regained with a 3-2 win at home in 2015.
The Yorkshireman said that the extra responsibility did not mean he would be neglecting his own batting duties and that he had opened his ears to plenty of useful advice.
“The one thing that’s really stuck out is ‘just make sure you look after your own game and concentrate on scoring as many runs as possible’,” he told the British media.
“That might come across as quite selfish. But I think it’s going to be very important for me, mentally as well, to put in the work and set the right example when the opportunities arise.”
Australia captain Steve Smith and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson are the batsmen ahead of Root in the world test rankings, while India’s Virat Kohli has also flourished as a leading batsman in charge of his national side.
“They are great examples of taking that responsibility and making it a real asset to their games,” said Root, who will captain England for the first time against South Africa at Lord’s on July 6.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to do exactly the same. In the past, the more responsibility I’ve been given, I’ve generally responded well to it. Hopefully that will be the same,” the 26-year-old added.
Root was 22 during England’s last trip to Australia and had a largely forgettable series, during which he averaged 27.42 before he was dropped following the fourth test.
“That first test match at Brisbane, when I walked out to bat, I think it did it hit me quite hard,” Root said.
”It was like I walked into a conservatory door: I was not aware at all that it was there. But I will be slightly more aware this time. I won’t be caught cold. I know what to expect from what can be quite a hostile environment.
“I think it’s very important that the guys that haven’t been there get a good idea of what it can be like. They shouldn’t be afraid of it. They should try to embrace it and enjoy it.”
Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O'Brien