Joe Root has hit back at England’s Australian tormentor-in-chief, telling Nathan Lyon he is talking nonsense.
On Monday, England’s Test captain was responding to Lyon’s attempt to crank up the pressure ahead of Thursday’s World Cup semi-final at Edgbaston.
The Australian spinner, who launched an unprovoked verbal attack on England ahead of the last Ashes and even included the retired Matt Prior in his rant, said this was ‘England’s World Cup to lose’ but Root dismissed his mind games.
‘Nathan has a lot to say a lot of the time so you just take it with a pinch of salt,’ said Root.
‘It might be his way of taking pressure off himself and his team. We know what we need to do and if we click we’re a force to be reckoned with.’
Root also said the Australians had not changed since the Sandpaper-gate incident despite their attempt to clean up their tarnished image.
Much has been made of the new, squeaky clean Australia after the sandpaper scandal but England’s Test captain believes that, deep down, the old enemy are the same as ever.
And Root, who will lead England into the Ashes almost as soon as this World Cup is over, will ignore any Australian provocation in the latest big clash of the oldest rivals in sport in this momentous cricketing summer.
‘We expect mind games because they’ve happened for years,’ he said. ‘Look back at when Glenn McGrath played and always predicted 5-0. It’s part of playing Australia. That’s how they like to prepare themselves. I can’t speak for anyone else but it doesn’t bother me.’
Root was once the cheeky chappie of the England team and found himself on the end of a right-hook from Warner in a Birmingham bar six years ago. Now, he insists, he stays away from trouble both on and off the field. ‘I try not to get too involved,’ said Root. ‘There have been times within games when it has got a bit spicy and there have been a few exchanges on the field but generally we will do things our way and prepare ourselves as best we can.’
England have a formidable record at Edgbaston, where Australia have a dreadful history. And now India are involved in the first semi-final against New Zealand, England can expect the majority of support on Thursday, too.
‘We get a real sense of belief from the crowd here and it does make a difference,’ said Root. ‘Whether it’s the noise bouncing off the stands or whether it’s just this ground but I do feel a great element of support here.
‘And we believe this pitch suits the way we play one-day cricket. I thought the surface here against India changed halfway through our 50 overs but we adapted extremely well. This has always been somewhere I’ve enjoyed turning up to play.’
Australia, of course, have beaten England twice in 50-over cricket this summer, the first in a World Cup warm-up game at Southampton and the second in their group match at Lord’s.
‘But if you look at the last 11 games we’ve played against them we’ve won nine,’ pointed out Root. ‘There has been a lot made of the fear factor against Australia but this group of players have had very positive experiences against them.
‘We have a lot of success in the bank and I don’t see this season’s two games as a worry. We will be drawing on our confidence against them over a long period of time.’