English captain Joe Root says Australia’s upset loss to India at the Gabba will haunt the side ahead of the Ashes, which begin at the very same ground in just over a month.
Root believes the Aussies lost their stronghold on the Gabba in January when an understrength Indian 11 handed them their first defeat at the venue in 32 years.
Root said the loss would embolden his side when it arrives down under for the Ashes.
“Look at that India team that won at the Gabba. They were a long way from their first-choice 11 but they had no fear,” he told The Guardian.
“They stood up to Australia and won crucial parts of that Test.
“It will give every player in our squad a huge amount of confidence and just plant a little bit of doubt in Australia’s mind.
“Having to go back there and play again for the first time against us, what with it being such a stronghold for them for such a long period of time. We now know that it’s not.”
Root’s comments were reminiscent of those made by his Australian counterpart Tim Paine ahead of the 2019 Ashes.
In the lead-up to the first Test of that series, Paine was asked whether there was a ground more intimidating than Edgbaston in Birmingham, where England had won 11 matches in a row across all formats.
The skipper enraged the English public with his response: “I could name you 15”.
Australia went on to win that first Test in a 251-run shellacking, but the series ultimately resulted in draw.
Root’s latest jab continued the war of words that has preceded the follow-up series.
No Test side has played more cricket since the pandemic began than the English and when Root expressed concerns with travel and bubble fatigue, he was met with little sympathy from Paine.
“No one is forcing you to come. If you don’t want to come, don’t come,” Paine told SEN.
“The Ashes are going ahead. The first Test is on 8 December, whether Joe is here or not. There will be a squad of England players coming here.”
Injuries have kept Jofra Archer, Olly Stone and Sam Curran from featuring in that squad, but the English have been bolstered by the late inclusion of Ben Stokes.
Stokes, England’s second-highest rated batter in the ICC player rankings, was initially left out of the squad but has managed to overcome injury and mental health concerns and commit to travelling.
“The fact he feels he’s in a place where he’s ready to play cricket again is the most exciting thing,” Root told The Guardian.