Ashes 2021-22: Root would 'love the opportunity' to revive sorry England

By Sports Desk January 16, 2022

Joe Root believes he remains the right man to take the England Test team forward, despite their humiliating Ashes series defeat in Australia.

The hosts clinched a 4-0 series victory by winning the fifth Test in Hobart on Sunday following yet another England batting collapse.

Chasing a target of 271 to end the series on a high, the tourists reached 68-0 but then lost all 10 wickets for 56 additional runs as they suffered a 146-run defeat.

It marked the 10th time in 14 Test matches that England have been beaten – tasting victory just once during that span – with Root's captaincy coming under scrutiny during the series.

Nevertheless, he underlined his hunger and desire to put things right in the role as skipper.

"I believe that I am the right man to take this team forward," Root said.

"I have an appetite to carry on and turn things around. If that decision is taken out of my hands, so be it.

"At the minute, we are going through a real tough stage as a group of players and the performances haven't been good enough.

"But I'd love the opportunity to try to turn things around and for us to start putting in performances from an English Test team."

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    England fast bowler Mark Wood has conceded he may not be able to play Test cricket until the end of the English summer as he makes "slow progress" in recovering from elbow surgery.

    Wood bowled 17 overs before suffering an issue with his right elbow in the first Test of a three-match series against West Indies, which ended in a 1-0 defeat for England in March.

    The 32-year-old was forced to pull out of the ongoing Indian Premier League, where he was due to play for new franchise Lucknow Super Giants, and underwent an operation on his elbow.

    Durham quick Wood hopes to use spells in Eoin Morgan's ODI team to regain fitness, with the three-match Test series against New Zealand that starts on June 2 at Lord's proving a step too soon.

    England then face India in the rescheduled fifth Test in July, and Wood may target the visit of South Africa for three Tests in August and September as a potential return.

    "Every time I bowl there's still a bit of swelling," said Wood, who was speaking at an event for England Test sponsors LV= Insurance.

    "I'm hoping I can get off my full run in the next couple of weeks then play for Durham after that. 

    "At the minute it's a little bit slow going. The back-end of the summer is where I'll be looking at for Test matches, nothing early doors.

    "If I can build up through one-day cricket first, that would make it easier for me to come back into Test matches."

     

    Wood is one of seven pace bowlers sidelined for England's first Test against New Zealand, with Olly Stone, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Fisher all out of action due to injury.

    Ollie Robinson was also not considered for Brendon McCullum's new England Test squad due to fitness issues, which opened the door for a maiden call-up for Durham's Matty Potts.

    Potts is the leading wicket-taker in the County Championship this season with 35, claiming 7-40 in a win over Glamorgan last time out, and Wood knows firsthand the qualities of his Durham team-mate.

    "He's a proper bowler," said Wood. "He's got something about him and finds ways to get wickets. He's a big, strong lad, built like a tank.

    "He never seems to drop off. He's really fit, constantly running in and making things happen. When you think nothing is happening, he gets a wicket. That's a great knack to have."

  • Kohli considering break to 'rejuvenate mentally and physically' amid slump in form Kohli considering break to 'rejuvenate mentally and physically' amid slump in form

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    Kohli stepped down as India's Test captain in January following a series defeat to South Africa, having already relinquished his role as skipper of his country's white-ball teams.

    The 33-year-old has struggled for form in 2022, averaging 21.45 in the ongoing Indian Premier League before Thursday's clash with Gujarat Titans – his lowest figure in the tournament since 2008.

    Kohli, who also gave up the captaincy at Royal Challengers Bangalore last year, has not scored a century in any format since November 2019 when he managed 136 in Kolkata against Bangladesh.

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    "It's not a lot of people who mentioned it [taking a break]," Kohli told Star Sports. "There is one person precisely who has mentioned it which is Ravi [Shastri] and that's because he has seen from close quarters over the last six, seven years the reality of the situation that I have been in.

    "The amount of cricket that I have played and the ups and downs and the toll that it takes on you to play three formats of the game plus the IPL for 10, 11 years non-stop with the seven years of captaincy in between.

    "It is definitely a thing that one needs to consider because you don't want to do something which you are not a part of 100 per cent and I have always believed in that in my life.

    "So to take a break and when to take a break is obviously something that I need to take a call on, but it is only a healthy decision for anyone to take some time off and just rejuvenate yourself mentally and physically.

    "Not so much physically because physical fitness you keep up with through the course of playing cricket all the time, but it is a mental kind of reset that you need, and you want to be excited for what you are doing. You don't want to feel like you have been forcing yourself into any situation.

    "It's only a thing of creating a balance and finding that balance which is right for you as an individual moving forward and I'll definitely discuss this with all the people involved – [India coach] Rahul [Dravid], the Indian team management, everyone to chart out whatever is best for myself and for the team definitely."

     

    Kohli would not be the first high-profile international player to take a break from cricket to prioritise their mental and physical health, given new England Test captain Ben Stokes did so last year.

    However, Kohli insists he is still enjoying his game as he looks to secure a playoff spot in the IPL with Bangalore.

    "Right now, there is nothing that you can point out saying there is a problem here," Kohli said.

    "I know where my game stands and you cannot come this far in your international career without having the ability to counter the situations and counter conditions and counter different kinds of bowling.

    "So this phase for me is the easier phase to process but I don't want to put this behind me. I want to learn from it and understand that what are the core values that I have as a sports person and as a human being.

    "As long as I'm ticking those boxes, I know these are ups and downs and when I come out of this phase I know how consistent I can be. I know how motivated I will be once the scores start coming.

    "My experiences are sacred to me – whatever I have experienced in this phase or in the past as well. 

    "So I am experiencing now that I value myself and I care for my own well-being way more than I would have in the past. And actually, contrary to a lot of belief or a lot of perceptions as I mentioned on the outside, I'm actually in the happiest phase of my life."

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    England have won just one of their past 17 Test matches, a dire run that has led to McCullum and Stokes finding themselves thrust into fresh roles.

    New Zealander McCullum has been hired as Test head coach to replace Chris Silverwood, who departed after a thumping Ashes defeat, while Stokes steps in to succeed Joe Root as skipper.

    As a batsman, McCullum was among the swashbuckling best in the game, while Stokes is widely considered one of the most gutsy and exciting players England have had in decades.

    Their dynamic will be eagerly observed, and McCullum said he is enthused by the prospect of working closely with the all-rounder to turn around a sinking side.

    "I like the idea of trying to build something from a pretty low base," McCullum said. "Without being disrespectful to what's been before in the English set-up, I think the last 12 to 18 months has been trying times.

    "It looks like there's an appetite for change and an appetite to try to recalibrate things somewhat and try to reengage some of the talent which sits amongst the English players.

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    In the interview, released by the England and Wales Cricket Board, McCullum spoke of what he admired most about Stokes, a former rival on the pitch who will now be a close ally.

    "I've had the luxury of playing against Stokesy in the past, and I've admired him from afar, his tough character and also the style of cricket that he plays," McCullum said.

    "He's uncompromising, but he seems like an immensely loyal person as well. The style of cricket he plays certainly lines up with the style of cricket I like to play as well."

    McCullum admitted the up-and-at-'em style is "not for everyone", but that looks to be the only way England can go given their new leadership.

    "Stokesy will be a fine leader for us because he'll be a real follow-me type of guy," McCullum said. "He'll go over the wall first and take the opposition on and that's a pretty exciting proposition for a coach to have a captain like that."

    McCullum said his England job would not be all "beer and skittles" as he prepares to face intense scrutiny, starting when England tackle his native New Zealand in three Tests in June.

    He said there was "meat on the bone" of the challenge, enticing him to take on the role.

    McCullum played 101 Tests in a stellar career between 2004 and 2016, scoring 6,453 runs at an average of 38.64, winning 11 and losing the same number of his 31 matches as New Zealand skipper. The maverick right-handed batter racked up 260 ODI appearances and 71 Twenty20 Internationals, scoring 6,083 runs in the 50-over game and 2,140 in the shortest format.

    He faced Stuart Broad and James Anderson often enough to know England should at least give them another shot at Tests, after both were left at home for the recent West Indies tour, having previously been used sparingly against Australia.

    Stokes has pushed for their reinstatement, and McCullum said: "I love the fact Stokesy was so strong on it.

    "One of the messages that I'll try to get across to them and work out is: 'How big a legacy can you guys leave for the next generation?'

    "If we can extract that little bit extra out of them in the last couple of years in their careers then that's going to go a long way to being able to be successful as an English side.

    "I'm incredibly lucky to have over 1,100 wickets just waltzing back into the line-up."

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