LONDON: England captain Joe Root is determined to show Australia just how good he is during the upcoming Ashes series as he seeks to atone for a miserable first tour ´Down Under´.
Root is now one of the world´s leading batsmen, having scored more than 5,000 runs in 60 Test at an average of 53.76 including 13 hundreds.
But his previous Ashes tour, in 2013/14, ended with him being dropped for the Sydney finale after he´d managed a meagre 192 runs in four previous Tests at a lowly average of 27.42.
England lost that series 5-0 under former captain Alastair Cook and Root´s then aim was simply to regain his place rather than think about leading the side.
“You don´t (think about becoming captain) as a 22-year-old lad being left out for the first time,” said Root.
“All you want to do is go back to your county or your next opportunity to play, and prove everyone wrong.
“Thankfully I did that,” the 26-year-old Yorkshireman added ahead of his first tour as England captain.
“That drive is still there within me, and I´m desperate to go out there and have a better tour than last time I was there.”
Meanwhile Root dismissed suggestions England would retreat to the safety of their hotel rooms after an incident that means they could be without Ben Stokes for the whole tour.
Stokes, England´s vice-captain, was suspended from international duty following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September.
The all-rounder remains under investigation after being arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm and will not fly out with the rest of the England squad on Saturday.
But Stokes, who has a broken finger, is still a member of the tour squad as he and England wait to discover if the 26-year-old will face criminal charges.
The fall-out has led to questions over whether England should abandon the relaxed approach to off-field discipline favoured by their Australian coach Trevor Bayliss.
But Root believes a regular social life can aid England´s chances of retaining the Ashes in a five-match series that starts with the first Test at Brisbane commencing November 23.
Asked by AFP if there was danger in England being “cooped up”, Root replied: “At no point did we say they would be. That would be a negative way to go about touring a great country.
“It´s really important to enjoy the downtime we do get and enjoy the whole nature of touring Australia — the atmosphere of the grounds, the nature of the people around the grounds and when you go out for food the banter that might be flying around and embrace it.
“You don´t get many opportunities to go and play in an Ashes series in Australia, and it is something you want to look back on and say you approached it in the right way and gave yourself the best chance to be successful and hopefully come away with some fantastic memories.”
Root said England had to work on the assumption Stokes would miss the entire tour.
That would be a huge blow to England´s chances given Stokes´s three-in-one role of aggressive middle-order batsman, lively fourth seamer and superb close-catcher.
“I think we´ve got to plan as if he´s not going to be there for the whole series,” Root said.
Root and Stokes have been mates since they played representative youth cricket, with the England skipper attending his deputy´s recent wedding.
But Root was tight-lipped when he felt let down by the disruption his old friend had caused to England´s Ashes plans.
“That´s between me and Ben, being brutally honest,” he added.
“It is disappointing that he´s not going to be on the trip, but you have to move on and move forward as a team.
“Ben offers a lot to the team, but it´s an opportunity for other guys to stand up in a difficult situation.
“A lot of the time people do surprise themselves and surprise you, and are capable of more than what they might even think themselves. This is one of those occasions.”