Joe Root believes victory in Sydney will be much more than mere Ashes consolation and can act as a springboard for success when he leads England back to Australia to try again.
The Yorkshireman laments some aspects of a tough tour – largely off-the-field distractions, given amplified profile while the absent Ben Stokes still waits to discover if he will face criminal charges after last September’s late-night fracas in Bristol.
Root insists nonetheless that, by reducing Australia’s series victory to 3-1 in the final Test, his team can begin to put in place the foundations for a much-improved campaign in 2021/22.
Major assignments beckon in the meantime – not least a home Ashes in the World Cup summer of 2019 – but this is where the most relevant experience can be gained for a happier return. Root, under a year and only 11 Tests into his captaincy tenure, senses the present can take care of the future.
“It’s really important… that we can get a win off this tour and build on that for four years’ time,” he said. “It would mean a lot to me certainly to give a fairer account of how we’ve gone about this trip.”
Asked if he wants to be in charge next time, the 27-year-old said: “Of course I do. I want us to be the best side in the world, and it’s not going to happen overnight.
“It’s really important that next time we come here we don’t look at it in a daunted way, or feel like there’s a massive gap between the two sides – because if we do things in the right way… we’ve got a really good chance.”
Root admits England have learned almost as much off the field as on it over the past 10 weeks.
He added: “It’s important that next time… we know exactly what to expect in terms of media barrage – as (coach) Trevor (Bayliss) said the other day ‘Pommie bashing’ from the Australian press. You have to be quite smart on that and make sure you’re very switched on to the way they operate.”
As for his own role, he knows more runs are non-negotiable, having made 237 compared with his prolific opposite number Steve Smith’s 604 so far.
Root also concedes, if he could turn back the clock, he could do with mitigating against unhelpful behaviour in a certain Perth bar – after Jonny Bairstow’s mis-judged ‘headbutt’ greeting for Cameron Bancroft was followed several weeks later by Lions batsman Ben Duckett’s decision to pour a drink over all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson.
“I’d make sure no-one is head-butting anyone, and people were more sensible off the field on the back of what happened in the summer,” he said.
“In the way we’ve practised and prepared we’ve been excellent, and it’s just a shame there’s been a few extra instances that could have been avoided. There’s definitely stuff we’ll have to take from this trip and make sure… we don’t make those mistakes again.”
His own form has been a frustration too, of course, as he said: “I’m disappointed… to not go on and make those big scores that as a senior player you pride yourself doing in big series, and which I have done in the past.
“You see (Smith’s scores), and you want to be the one doing it. He’s probably been the difference between the teams. Take his runs out of it, and we’ve been there or thereabouts to win. It’s a little lesson to me on leading from the front.”
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