Joe Root says there is “no better motivator” for England’s World Cup strugglers than the chance to knock Australia off their stride. While England lie bottom of the standings in 10th place after six games, their oldest rivals appear to be set fair for a semi-final spot with four wins under their belt.
Although their fortunes have differed dramatically in India, it is only a matter of months since many of the same players contested a thrilling Ashes series that ended 2-2 and would surely have fallen England’s way had it not been for rain at Old Trafford. Root is hoping to see his side rally against familiar foes, ending a four-game losing streak in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
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“I don’t think we need to look at what has happened before; now is the time to look at what happens next and that is beating Australia,” he told BBC Sport. “There is no better motivator for any group of English players than to play against the Aussies. It is about putting that performance together. Let’s concentrate on that and being as ready as we can do.
“To play against Australia, in many ways it is a great time for it to come for us, to go and put in a big performance and put a bit of pride back into what we are about as a team and get back to the standards we expect of ourselves.
“Playing for your country is an extreme privilege. Every game means a huge amount to this group of players and they are all desperate to do well and we understand the responsibility that comes with the opportunities. We might not be able to go and win the tournament but we are desperate to win every game we play and will do everything we can to get that right and turn that around.”
Root also paid tribute to David Willey, who will retire from international cricket at the end of tournament. Eyebrows have been raised at the timing of his announcement, a matter of days after he was overlooked for a central contract and with group fixtures still to fulfil, but Root had nothing but praise for his former Yorkshire teammate.
“On and off the field he is a great team man and is great to have around the group. It might be our loss but it is someone else’s gain. I am sure he will be entertaining the world for a long time yet. It might not be on the international stage but around the world we will see a lot more of him
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“It won’t be a distraction for us at all. If anything it will be another motivator for us to win those last three games for him and send him out of international cricket with some good cricket in his memory bank.”