Joe Root challenges England to win the Perth Test © Getty Images
Joe Root challenges England to win the Perth Test © Getty Images

Ever since Ben Stokes’ arrest in Bristol after the brawl incident, the behaviour of England cricketers has been under the microscope. While things have been blown out of proportion in some cases, it cannot be denied that at times players have been foolish to get into unwanted mess. The Australian media have come hard at the English side post Jonny Bairstow’s head-butt and Ben Duckett’s pub incident (where he poured alcohol over James Anderson’s head). England trail 0-2 in the current Ashes, and another defeat will see them concede the urn. Ahead of the third Test at Perth, a ‘fed-up’ Joe Root challenged his side to stand up and keep the series alive.

In order to keep the series alive, England will not have to lose at Perth against Steven Smith’s side.  England had last won at the venue in 1978, which makes the challenge steeper.

‘Time to stand up’

“It’s time to stand up. These are the games that when you get them right, they really hit home with people. And that’s what people want to see — in the face of adversity, people stand up and really put in those big performances and prove why they have been selected to play for England.

“That’s the opportunity that’s in front of this group, to go and win here at the WACA for the first time in a long time, by playing well for longer. If we get that right, there is no reason we can’t be sat here at 2-1 next week,” Root told reporters.

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England lost 0-5 in 2013-14, and many have predicted a repeat of the humiliation. Back then, Jonathan Trott had returned after the first Test, Graeme Swann had retired midway, Kevin Pietersen’s career came to a halt and Andy Flower resigned, ending his happy run with the side.

Root admitted he was fed up with the team’s off-field alcohol incidents which have harmed the side’s reputation.

A fed up Root defends his side

“I’m fed up talking about stuff that’s not cricket,” Root told travelling English media earlier in the day. “We have to make sure we perform well this week and win. Get people talking about the cricket. This is a very professional group of players that goes about things in the right way, but we’ve had two incidents that have been blown up and made a big deal of. They could have been avoided. That’s the annoying thing, as you know, but a lot of people back home probably don’t, the stories are not a fair reflection of this team. But a lot of the stuff that’s being spouted is giving ammunition,” Root added.

Taking things to stride

Root, who has captained England in 9 Tests, is in his first year as England’s skipper and he believes he has learned from the experience: “You have to take it in your stride and learn from it —I’ve learned a lot. I want to be concentrating on making sure we get things right on the field. That’s my job as captain. I’m trying to develop a team that over a long period can achieve success and do special things.

“One of this group’s big strengths is we do look after each other. The lads have done some stupid stuff but we care about each other. We’re in it together and we are only going to get back into this series if we stick together.”