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Bring on the bouncers - Root

Daniel Brettig
December 1, 2013 « Schwartzel pounces to defend at Leopard Creek | Chartbeat test »
Joe Root has happy memories of Adelaide and the experience toughened him for Australia's physical threat © Getty Images
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Joe Root has batted at No. 3 in Adelaide before. Three summers ago, at Woodville Oval, he walked in at the fall of the first wicket for Prospect's A grade side, and nudged his way to 14 and 52 in a first-innings victory for the hosts.

Though a Woodville bowling attack including Chadd Sayers, Ken Skewes and Kyron Burgess suffers considerably by comparison to Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle, the apprenticeship in Adelaide grade cricket played a major role in sculpting Root's technique and temperament. It will become more valuable than ever should he find himself promoted to replace Jonathan Trott in an Ashes Test match England are desperate to win after the horrors of their opening defeat in Brisbane.

"If I get the chance to do it it'll be a great experience and a good challenge for me and I look forward to doing it, but if not then fine," Root said with typical equanimity. "When you go out there you get in a number of situations and you make sure you're well equipped to deal with them. I'll be making sure I prepare well over the next couple of days and go into that Test match whether at three or five comfortable and confident and ready to go."

Johnson's pace and physical threat caused grave difficulties for England at the Gabba but Root was a rare batsman who appeared to improve against him as the match went on, atoning for a skittish two in the first innings by fighting to an unbeaten 26 while the game was lost around him in the second. He also showed little sign of buckling under Australia's verbal barrage, perhaps another sign that a spell of Australian club cricket served to thicken his 22-year-old skin.

"It was probably close to it, yeah," Root said when queried on whether Johnson's bowling in Brisbane was the quickest he had faced. "It's great. That's why you play Test cricket, to get into battles like that, to get into confrontations like that and try to be successful in those situations. Bring it on on Thursday. It should be good fun.

"Whether you like it or not you've got to deal with it on the field and find your own way of coping with it. I quite enjoyed being out there, and the battles you get and all the rest of it are part of the game and something I'm sure will continue throughout the series. If we perform well that's the best way of counteracting it."

Root said he looked back fondly on his Adelaide experiences of 2010-11, which included time alongside a fellow recruit to the club from beyond the South Australian border - a young finger spinner by the name of Nathan Lyon. By the end of the summer Lyon had graduated to play for SA and was soon bowling for the Test team, while Root went on to earn his county cap for Yorkshire in 2012 and made his England debut later that year in India.

"I played with Nathan, that was the season he started there as well. I got to know him quite well and it's quite interesting being on the opposite side now," Root said. "I had five months here and really enjoyed my time and worked really hard on my game; the season after I made my first-class debut. Playing with other lads in a similar position to me trying to make their way in first-class cricket was beneficial for me coming through and trying to better myself.

"As I've only been playing for a year and as quite a young lad you've got to find your feet in the international arena, there've been different obstacles to overcome and I just want to keep trying to improve, keep bettering myself as a player and that's all I can really do. If I want to survive in this environment I have to find a way to do it, so it's about scoring as many runs as I can and finding ways to do it."

Root's desire to improve will be matched this week by England, as they strain to regather their former poise after losing much psychological and physical ground at the Gabba. It is a scenario they have become familiar with on overseas tours, and like Root in Adelaide, the benefits of that past experience will be better known from Thursday.

"It's always nice to know you've done it before, and this England team has showed it over the last three years," Root said. "It is something we certainly want to do this Test match."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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