JOE ROOT’S first Ashes tour as England cricket captain has been more eventful than he expected, just not in the way he had hoped.
“I knew it would be challenging and I knew there would be stuff around the cricket, but not to this extent,” Root said of the off-field issues that have followed his squad around Australia. “I’m fed up of talking about stuff that’s not cricket. I don’t know how I’ve still got all my hair ... I can completely see how captaincy can take its toll.”
England trails the five-test series 2-0 after losses in Brisbane and Adelaide. Australia can clinch the series with a win at the Waca in a match that will also mark England opener Alastair Cook’s 150th test and the last as the stadium’s premier cricket venue in Perth.
Only one team in Ashes history has rallied from 2-0 down to win the series — Don Bradman’s Australia in 1936-37 at home. England has only ever had one win at the Waca, in the 1978-79 series.
Root has faced more questions about the team’s conduct and curfew than its cricket. Ben Stokes’s involvement in an incident outside a bar in Bristol in September has resulted in the all-rounder being suspended from England duties while police determine whether charges will be laid.
Recent alcohol-fuelled incidents involving wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow and Ben Duckett, who is travelling with England’s second-tier squad, have only added to the focus on off-field issues.
The latest episode, in which Duckett poured a drink over the head of veteran pace bowler Jimmy Anderson, happened on a night when team officials had relaxed a midnight curfew.
“I feel like I’ve learned a large amount,” Root said. “The lads have to wake up and smarten up. It’s been frustrating ... very frustrating.
“Guys have made silly mistakes that of course are going to get blown out of proportion.”