Andrew Strauss backs Joe Root to impress in his ‘biggest challenge’ Down Under

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Andrew Strauss believes Joe Root could thrive as he prepares for an England captain’s toughest challenge – an Ashes series in Australia.

Root has made an impressive start since taking over leadership of the England Test side, overseeing series victories over South Africa and West Indies this summer.

The 26-year-old’s next task is the five-Test series Down Under starting in November. England travel as holders and have won five of the past seven Ashes series, but were thrashed 5-0 on their last tour of Australia four years ago.

Strauss, who is now team director, was captain on England’s last successful Ashes tour in 2010-11.

“It’s the biggest challenge an England captain will ever have,” said 40-year-old Strauss, who led England 50 times in 100 Tests.

“There’s all sorts of reasons for that, a lot of them are off-field. You are living in this incredible bubble for a long period of time and everything is directed towards you as England captain in terms of being responsible for what’s happening on the pitch.

“But also the conditions in Australia are very changeable from one venue to another, and to different periods in the game, and you need to be able to adapt to those conditions you see in front of you.

England face Australia later this year
England have a big winter ahead (Nick Potts/PA)

“That is why at the back end if you are able to win – certainly for me it was my greatest moment as an England captain, and I think Joe will be incredibly motivated to do that early in his captaincy career.

“He’s got a great chance, he’s started brilliantly. He’s shown that he’s very much his own man. He’s got his own way of thinking about the game and that will stand him in very good stead in Australia.”

England are due to name their squad next week and there is still uncertainty over some key positions in the batting order.

Joe Root takes charge of his first away Test series in Australia
Joe Root led England to two series wins this summer (Adam Davy/PA)

Tom Westley and Dawid Malan were unable to make the most of opportunities at three and five respectively against the West Indies. Mark Stoneman was a modest success after replacing the out-of-form Keaton Jennings but he may not have fully cemented a place either.

Seamer Toby Roland-Jones is also a doubt and is having scans to assess the cause of pain in his lower back which forced him out of Middlesex’s Specsavers County Championship match against Lancashire.

Strauss said: “I’d be lying if I said we were going to Australia with absolute clarity on what our best XI is. We are just not in that position at the moment.

“There are two or three places up for grabs, which is never ideal, and our consistency hasn’t been quite what we want. The two are probably linked.

“Collective consistency comes on the back of more individual consistency, so there are going to be opportunities in Australia for guys to make a very strong case for a long-term England career, based on performing well when it really counts in Australia.”

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