Joe Root cannot wait to perform in Ashes without burden of captaincy
Joe Root admitted he will relish the chance to deliver for England and focus purely on playing in his first Ashes series in eight years without the captaincy.
England made it 11 wins in 13 Tests under the leadership of skipper Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum with a 10-wicket victory over Ireland at Lord’s on Saturday.
All eyes now turn to the Ashes opener on June 16 and Root, who was man of the series on home soil in 2015 with 460 runs, is excited after leading England during the last three red-ball battles with Australia.
“It’s going to be nice, yeah,” the Yorkshireman said.
“It’s going to be nice to just go and play the game and try and assist where I can for Ben and for the other guys around, play a slightly different senior role in the team.
“They’re always great fun to be a part of, these big games, big series. They’re the ones you want to stand up and play well and it’s just an opportunity to do that again.
“I think my batting has been fine for a while, but mentally to be able to just turn up and play and have fun, just chat batting with some of the younger guys.
“Obviously (I’ll) try and help out where I can but Ben knows what he’s doing.
“He’s got enough behind him now to give himself the encouragement and confidence to make those big calls on his own, as you’d expect him to anyway. He’s doing a far better job than I did.”
The majority of England’s team were also part of the 4-0 defeat Down Under in 2021, but opener Ben Duckett and Harry Brook are set to experience their first taste of Ashes cricket at Edgbaston.
Asked what advice he could give them, Root was unable to play down the life-changing aspect of beating Australia with this upcoming series generating a similar level of excitement to the memorable 2005 instalment.
Root said: “Most importantly is not to over-egg it and that’s probably one of the things that you have to keep in mind.
“There will be a lot more attention, there will be a lot more noise, there will be a lot more hype around it. There will be people that might not normally be interested in cricket very interested in cricket for five or six weeks.
“It’s the same game. As soon as the bowler lets go of it, it’s you against the ball. Just go and play as you’ve been playing for the last 12 months and when it goes well, enjoy everything that comes with it.
“If you’re successful in Ashes cricket it can set you up for life really, not just the rest of your career but beyond it. It’s an opportunity to go and make history and hopefully have an incredible two months of it as a group.”
Root’s own preparation for this monumental series had been far from ideal before his 56 against Ireland.
The Yorkshire batter decided against playing County Championship cricket during April and May after he secured a first Indian Premier League contract, but Rajasthan Royals only selected him on three occasions and he batted just once in the tournament.
Nevertheless, the 32-year-old was philosophical about his experience in India.
“Championship cricket is the bedrock of our domestic game and I am not trying to bag it with what I say here,” Root explained.
“I am not saying it’s not important or a good standard. For where I am in my career, am I going to learn more about myself in that environment?
“Am I really going to be prepared better for an Ashes series facing lower pace bowling on some nibbly wickets when hopefully we will play on good pitches against high pace and a high quality spinner? I don’t think so.
“By learning and experiencing something new, talking and discussing the game with greats like Kumar Sangakkara and Brian Lara, other players and ex-players about just batting in general, Test cricket, I thought that not just for the Ashes, but the rest of the year for me it would set me up best to perform well and get the best out of myself. I feel ready.”