LONDON: Joe Root has urged England to “lay down a marker” for the Ashes when they face Ireland in a one-off Test at Lord’s hot on the heels of their World Cup triumph at the ‘home of cricket’.
The four-day fixture starting Wednesday is followed by a five-match Ashes campaign — a gruelling schedule of six Tests in eight weeks.
Test captain Root is one of several players in the team that will face Ireland who were involved in a dramatic World Cup final that saw England edge past New Zealand on superior boundary count after both the regulation match and the Super Over ended with the scores level.
Despite the switch to red-ball cricket, the Yorkshire batsman believes England being crowned world champions in the one-day format for the first time will help them when they return to Test duty.
“We’ve taken a huge amount of confidence from the World Cup and that counts for a lot,” Root told reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday.
“It’s something we must capitalise on going into a huge six Tests. The message to the squad is to play with a huge amount of pride and passion.”
– ‘Don’t want to sleepwalk’ –
England are looking to regain the Ashes following a 4-0 drubbing in Australia in 2017/18, having not lost a home series to their arch-rivals in 18 years.
But first come Ireland and Root said: “We don’t want to sleepwalk into this. Any Lord’s Test match at the start is a good chance to set a precedent for the way we want to play for the rest of the summer.
“I don’t want anyone walking into it and not being 100 percent on it. It’s a great chance to lay a marker down.”
That six Tests have been shoehorned into such a short span following a World Cup is a graphic demonstration of the physical and mental demands being made upon modern cricketers.
“For every international team, the schedule is pretty hectic for everyone,” said Root.
“It’s tough but it presents a great opportunity as well. You get a chance to get on a roll and put some strong performances in early, which enables you to carry on that momentum.
“Similarly, if it doesn’t quite go your way at the start you’ve got the opportunity to put things right very quickly.
“One of the challenges is making sure we manage everyone well and we are smart with selections and making sure that guys who are picked are fit and firing and ready to go.”
Ireland’s attack will be led by paceman Tim Murtagh, who recently took his 800th first-class cricket and plays for Middlesex-based Lord’s.
“He’s played a huge amount of cricket and had a huge amount of success at this ground for Middlesex and in county cricket,” said Root.
“There’s a number of guys in their side who have been around the county circuit…They deserve this opportunity.”
England will be without leading all-time wicket-taker James Anderson for the Ireland match due to a calf injury, with World Cup-winning opener Jason Roy and fast bowler Olly Stone set to make their Test debuts.
Meanwhile World Cup stars Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes have been rested ahead of the Ashes.
But Root insisted: “We won’t be taking anyone lightly or under-estimating Ireland in any way.”