Joe Root can hardly wait for the “fun” to start again when he faces Mitchell Johnson in the second Ashes Test at Adelaide.
Root was one of very few in the England ranks who emerged with any credit from the wreckage of their defeat in Brisbane in the first Test.
The smiling 22-year-old demonstrated technique and temperament to withstand Johnson’s 90mph-plus barrage, while others wilted as England added 179 all out to 136.
Root could do little about England’s descent to a hapless 381-run hammering as Johnson ruled the Gabba. But an unbeaten 26 in England’s second innings enabled him to leave Brisbane unbowed and with reputation enhanced, as he presented a straight bat and a sunny disposition.
The Johnson bouncers, literal and figurative, just kept coming in a match which ended in controversy as James Anderson and home captain Michael Clarke – subsequently fined by the International Cricket Council – made their rumoured mutual antipathy abundantly clear.
Root will be returning to familiar territory this week. He attended the Darren Lehmann academy in Adelaide – and played club cricket for Prospect here alongside Nathan Lyon – during England’s last tour Down Under.
The two former team-mates will, three years on, be in Ashes opposition at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday. Yet Root appears most excited about facing Johnson again – an alarming prospect for most, but not so the young Yorkshireman.
Asked if Johnson is the quickest bowler he has taken guard to, his face positively lit up. “Probably, close to it,” he said. “It’s great – that’s why you play Test cricket, to get in confrontations and battles like that and try to be successful in those situations. Bring it on, on Thursday. It should be good fun. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Root will not be dodging the verbals either. “It’s Ashes cricket; it’s hard cricket,” he said. “Guys are out there to win, and it’s all part of the game. Whether you like it or not, you have to deal with it on the field and find your own way to cope with it.
“If the ICC want to step in when they think things have gone too far, that’s up to them. But all we can do is control what we’re doing, and try to win the game for our country. I enjoy being out there, and the battles you get are all part of the game. I’m sure it will continue the whole series.”
Root’s chosen response at the Gabba appeared to be a mixture of amusement and redoubled determination. “Everyone has their own way of coping with it, and generally we’re good at it as a side,” he said. “I don’t think there’s much point talking about it – you just have to get on with your job and do it as best you can. If we perform well that’s the best way of counter-acting it.”
• Ireland recorded the fourth-highest total in T20 international history as they defeated Afghanistan in the World T20 Qualifying final for the second year running. Ireland ran up 225 for seven off their 20 overs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Afghanistan were bowled out for 157, losing by 68 runs.