• Australian Open

McIlroy: I'm rooting Australia to Ashes glory

ESPN staff
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McIlroy on sledging Tiger: "There is a bit more humour in it" © Getty Images
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Rory McIlroy has admitted he is cheering on Australia to Ashes glory - and admitted he is surprised by the vitriolic sledging during this series.

Speaking ahead of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club, McIlroy revealed he is a keen cricket fan and often watched the Ashes as a child in Northern Ireland.

Asked who he wants to win the current series, McIlroy replied with a smile: "Anyone but England isn't it?

"The Aussies had a convincing victory up there in Brisbane so hopefully more of the same."

He added: "I must say I do like when the Ashes is on. I remember years ago getting up at midnight to watch the first bowled in the Boxing Day Test."

The controversial sledging between the sides has not escaped the two-time major champion, who believes the slanging has hit new lows.

"The sledging this year has probably been a bit worse than other years," he said. "It looks like they're having a go at each other after every ball.

"It would be really tough to take that for however long you're out there for. They seem to really get at each other's throat whenever they're in there."

And when asked if he had ever sledged Tiger Woods, he added: "There is a bit more humour in it and a bit more banter-full. I think it is a bit different when two people know each other pretty well, you can get that bond and know it's a bit of fun.

"At least you can go and have a beer or whatever after play. I don't think those guys are having beers together after the Test matches."

McIlroy also sent his best wishes to Jonathan Trott, who returned home this week with a stress-related illness, and said such conditions were prevalent now with the immense pressure on elite sports stars.

"Hopefully he [Trott] gets home and spends some time with his family and can come back. As sport becomes so big and there's so much pressure on the line it is becoming more and more common that these sort of stress-related illnesses are happening."

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