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‘Bring it on’ – Root on being Australia’s target

Joe Root

Joe Root has made scores of 9, 58 and 1 in England’s two tour games so far

England captain Joe Root says he is ready to be targeted by Australia in the Ashes series.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon said last week that all of the home bowlers will be focusing on Root.

“I’ve heard a lot of chat about targeting me, in particular,” Root, 26, told BBC Sport.

“We’ll be targeting every single one of them – we won’t be singling anyone out. Bring it on – it’s what it’s all about.”

Australians talking about singling out England’s captain or best batsman is a regular feature in the build-up to an Ashes series – legendary fast bowler Glenn McGrath made a habit of it during the 1990s and 2000s.

As well as Lyon’s comments, Australia opener David Warner has described the series as “war”.

Root said: “There’s been a lot of talk. Some of it is exciting and some of it is a load of rubbish, especially from some of the Aussie players.

“I try not to do too much talking. That’s more for them to worry about. The more you say, the more it can backfire on you. We will go about things our way. Hopefully that’s the right way.”

Root’s side begin their final warm-up match, a four-day game against a Cricket Australia XI, on Wednesday in Townsville.

Overton given chance to impress again

In naming the team for that game, Root all but confirmed James Vince will bat at number three for the first Test in Brisbane, with Gary Ballance again missing out.

Pace bowler Jake Ball is unavailable with an ankle injury but is expected to be fit for the Test at the Gabba.

In his absence, uncapped Craig Overton has another opportunity to stake his claim for what looks to be the only available place in the Test side.

“The selection for this game gives us a good indication of where we’re at,” said Root.

“Craig has done really well, but all of the bowlers have done themselves proud.”

While most of England’s top order have spent decent time at the crease during the first two warm-up matches, no-one has made a century.

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Cricketers dice with danger down under

“The one thing that we have not got quite right yet is converting 60s and 70s into big hundreds,” said Root.

“It’s nice to see guys getting in and building an innings in these conditions, but we know what will win Test matches is big hundreds.”

In three innings on tour, opener Alastair Cook, England’s all-time leading Test runscorer, has managed only 47 runs.

“With his experience and his weight of runs, the amount of cricket he’s played, he’ll know how he needs to get ready.

“It would be nice for him to get a bucketload this week but, if not, I’m fully confident the quality he has and the things he has done previously will set him up nicely for the first Test.”

James Anderson, England’s highest Test wicket-taker, in unavailable in Townsville because of illness, but is expected to be fully fit for the first Test.

England team to play Cricket Australia XI: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (c), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, Mason Crane.

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