It will be hostile, but don't be scared - Root's message to players

It will be hostile, but don't be scared - Root's message to players
It will be hostile, but don't be scared - Root's message to players
Opener Mark Stoneman has only played only three Tests
Australia v England, first Ashes Test
Date: 23-27 November Time: 00:00 GMT Venue: Gabba, Brisbane
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on On Events Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and the Eyes On Events Sport website. Live text commentary on the Eyes On Events Sport website and app. Full coverage

England captain Joe Root says the first Ashes Test will be "hostile and intimidating" but that his players should not be scared of Australia.

England could field an inexperienced team for the first Test at Brisbane's Gabba on Thursday (00:00 GMT), as they attempt to retain the Ashes.

They were beaten 5-0 on their last tour of Australia in 2013-14.

"You have a chance to do something that not many people do," said 26-year-old Root. "That should excite you,"

Of England's top five at the Gabba, opener Mark Stoneman has played three Tests, only two fewer than number five Dawid Malan. James Vince has been recalled to bat at three after playing seven matches in 2016.

The one space in the bowling attack will go to either the uncapped Craig Overton or Jake Ball, who has played three matches.

All-rounders Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali have never played a Test in Australia.

"You want to make sure they are prepared and know what to expect," said Root.

"It will be hostile and perhaps slightly intimidating, but that shouldn't scare you."

Five of the England team set to line up in the first Test were in the squad on the last tour down under.

"That happened four years ago," said Root. "England have won four of the past five Ashes series.

"We have a lot of guys that won in England in 2015 and have very fond memories of that."

Root says much of the talk in the build-up to the series opener in Brisbane has been "irrelevant" - but Australia have been keen to remind the visitors of their last tour.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon said England's batsmen were "scared" and talked of wanting to "end careers", while pace bowler Josh Hazlewood wants to reopen "scars".

"I am not sure that scars is a great tag to put on it," said Root, who will lead England in an Ashes series for the first time.

"I don't think that the guys who played then will have much baggage going into this one."

In 2013-14, pace bowler Mitchell Johnson took 37 wickets as Australia destroyed England's batting.

Four years on, only three players remain for the hosts - Lyon, captain Steve Smith and opening batsman David Warner.

Lyon has said he hopes Australia can end the careers of some of the England players and would like Root to be dropped, as he was for the final Test in 2014.

Root was once a team-mate of Lyon at Adelaide club Prospect.

"The more talking that guys do going into a series, the more pressure they put on themselves," said Root.

"One thing Australia did well last time was talking up certain things and they delivered. This is a completely different tour and we have to make sure we don't give them that opportunity this time."

England are without Ben Stokes after he was arrested in September on suspicion of actual bodily harm following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub.

The all-rounder is in the UK awaiting the outcome of a police investigation and has been made unavailable to play for England until further notice.

"It's very difficult to replace him," said Root. "It's more important that our guys bring the best version of themselves and not try to replicate something he would do.

"He is a big presence and brings a lot to the table. If you ask any captain in the world they would want him in their squad, but for our team it would not be natural for someone to try to be Ben Stokes.

"It's an opportunity for someone to do the special things like Ben can do."


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