Root senses 'great opportunity' for England to end Gabba hoodoo in first Ashes Test

By Sports Desk December 06, 2021

James Anderson and Stuart Broad were the only members of the England squad who were born when the tourists last won an Ashes Test at the Gabba.

The hostile iconic Brisbane venue has been such a fortress for Australia that you have to go back to November 1986 for their previous Test defeat to England at the ground where the 2021-22 series starts on Wednesday.

Yet India consigned Australia to a first Gabba loss in the longest format for over 32 years in January and England captain Joe Root is backing his side to end the hoodoo, despite a lack of match practice due to rain.

The world's number one Test batter said: "[Victory] would absolutely set us up for the rest of the series and it's a great opportunity.

"This group of players, not that long ago, went to Cape Town where we've not won a Test for a long period of time and off the back of a performance there won the series.

"I feel like we have been able to do that around the world and this is an opportunity to do that here. Obviously conditions are slightly different to home, at this venue in particular with that extra bit of bounce, but we have prepared as well as we can for that. If we manage that well we should give a really good account of ourselves and start well."

Ben Stokes' return gives England a massive lift as they attempt to wrestle back the urn, though they won't have the usual level of backing from the Barmy Army as usual due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

The tourists were thrashed 4-0 in their last Ashes series Down Under in 2017-18 after the humiliation of a 2013-14 whitewash, so it is almost 10 years since their last Test win in Australia.

Stats Perform looks at some of the key factors that will decide whether they can make it a miserable start to Pat Cummins' reign as Australia Test captain.

 

Stoking the fires

Stokes has not played for his country since July, but declared himself fit to face Australia after taking a break to prioritise his mental well-being and fully recover from a fractured finger.

The all-rounder was England's player of the series in an Ashes series two years ago that ended in a 2-2 draw, scoring 441 runs at an average of 55.12 and producing one of the great innings at Headingley to pull off an unlikely victory.

Vice-captain Stokes' return should add strength to the middle order they have been lacking and Root will be hoping he can do some damage in short, sharp bursts with the ball.

 

Root must keep racking up the runs

It has been an incredible 2021 for Root, who has scored six Test centuries - including one double-hundred in Sri Lanka and another in India.

The skipper said this tour will define his captaincy and England will need him to keep racking up the runs if they are to return home with a surprise series win.

Only five batsmen have scored more Test centuries in a year than Root's tally, with Mohammad Yousuf holding the record with a staggering nine in 2006.

 

Lack of pace potency?

Not for the first time in Ashes, a lack of pace could be a big issue for England and how they would love to have a fit Jofra Archer firing.

Australian Troy Cooley was brought into the touring party as a consultant pace bowling coach and there is no doubting the quality in the England attack, led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

Broad tormented Warner in the 2019 series, but the opener could be much more difficult to dismiss on home soil with a Kookaburra ball and returned to form in Australia's recent T20 World Cup triumph.

Mark Wood is capable of doing damage but it remains to be seen how many Tests the injury-prone quick can play. Ollie Robinson could make a big impact in his first Ashes series and Chris Woakes can hit the sort of lengths to trouble batters in Australia.

Related items

  • Juventus 4-1 Sampdoria: Bianconeri make strong start to Coppa Italia defence Juventus 4-1 Sampdoria: Bianconeri make strong start to Coppa Italia defence

    Juventus launched their Coppa Italia title defence with a commanding 4-1 victory over Sampdoria at the Allianz Stadium.

    A free-kick from Juan Cuadrado gave the reigning champions a 25th-minute lead, while Daniele Rugani's first Bianconeri goal in almost three years doubled the advantage after the break.

    Andrea Conti replied for Sampdoria, whose fortunes were overseen by Felice Tufano following the sacking of coach Roberto D’Aversa on Monday.

    But substitute Paulo Dybala put the hosts back in control, before Alvaro Morata's penalty sealed their place in the quarter-finals.

     

    Juventus had won eight of their nine previous Coppa Italia meetings with Sampdoria, while they had not been eliminated from this stage of the competition since 2005.

    The Bianconeri made a strong start as Cuadrado tested Wladimiro Falcone with a fierce drive, but soon after there was no denying the Colombian, who drilled a low free-kick into the far corner.

    Juve thought they had doubled their lead when Morata swept home within 60 seconds of the restart. But the Spain international was denied by VAR after Adrien Rabiot was adjudged to have fouled Tomas Rincon in the build-up.

    The second goal arrived seven minutes after the interval; Rugani, who last found the net for Juventus in February 2019, climbed to nod home Arthur’s inviting cross.

    Despite a turbulent build-up that included the departure of D’Aversa, Sampdoria responded in the 63rd minute. Unmarked at the far post, Conti was allowed too much time to control before drilling past Mattia Perin.

    However, their hard work was undone almost immediately as they were robbed of possession outside the penalty box, with Dybala gratefully sweeping home.

    Morata then put the icing on the cake from the penalty spot after Marley was brought down by Tommaso Augello.

  • Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 Chelsea: Tuchel's worst winless run continues Brighton and Hove Albion 1-1 Chelsea: Tuchel's worst winless run continues

    Chelsea's worst winless Premier League run under Thomas Tuchel was extended to four games as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday. 

    Tuchel's side missed a chance to quickly close the gap to leaders Manchester City, who beat the European champions 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to go 13 points clear. 

    Hakim Ziyech put the Blues ahead in the first half at the Amex Stadium, but Brighton restored parity through an unmarked Adam Webster in the 60th minute. 

    Chelsea were unable to bring an end to their worst top-flight run under Tuchel by finding a winner, with Brighton earning an impressive point. 

    Brighton started positively and pressed Chelsea well, but Danny Welbeck spurned their best opportunity when he failed to connect with the ball in the six-yard box. 

    However, Chelsea took the lead in the 28th minute when a speculative Ziyech effort got the better of Robert Sanchez and found the bottom-right corner.

    The Seagulls made a strong start to the second period and drew level on the hour mark when Webster powered a header home from Alexis Mac Allister's corner. 

    Romelu Lukaku made a brilliant dart in behind to latch onto Antonio Rudiger's lofted throughball but was thwarted by the onrushing Sanchez, with the Blues having to settle for a draw.

    What does it mean? Still concern for Tuchel 

    After a run of three wins in nine games in all competitions across December and January, Chelsea looked to have got back on track by beating Tottenham in the EFL Cup semi-finals and thrashing Chesterfield in the FA Cup. 

    However, on the south coast they were unable to bounce back from the disappointment of defeat at City, which effectively brought an end to any faint title hopes they may have had. 

    Lacklustre Lukaku 

    Tuchel has been frustrated by the performances of Chelsea's attackers this season and Lukaku did little to appease him here. Although he supplied two key passes, he had just eight touches in the first half and only managed one shot on target in the whole game. 

    Webster unwatched 

    Webster was allowed to steam in completely unmarked from the back post and send a bullet header past Kepa Arrizabalaga for the equaliser. Tuchel's men showed a lack of awareness when defending the set-piece. 

    What's next? 

    Chelsea will welcome their former coach Antonio Conte back to Stamford Bridge when they face Tottenham on Sunday, when Brighton travel to Leicester City. 

  • Simeone on struggling Suarez: 'I have spoken to him for two months' Simeone on struggling Suarez: 'I have spoken to him for two months'

    Diego Simeone has opened up about conversations with Luis Suarez as Atletico Madrid attempt to get the former Barcelona striker back to form.

    The Uruguay international is Atletico's top scorer in all competitions this season, albeit with just nine goals from 27 appearances.

    The 34-year-old, whose contract at Wanda Metropolitano expires at the end of the campaign, has only found the net once in his last 11 club matches.

    Suarez's frustration was evident when he was substituted during last month's defeat at Sevilla, with the former Liverpool striker appearing to direct expletives towards coach Simeone.

    With the striker's sharp shooting deserting him and his future uncertain, the Atleti boss said there have been discussions between the pair in recent times.

    Ahead of Atletico's Copa del Rey clash with Real Sociedad on Wednesday, Simeone said: "We have spoken with Luis for two months about what I think of him, of how important he is for us.

    "What I think of him, he knows it and I didn't speak to him after Sevilla, I have spoken to him for two months."

     

    Suarez has scored 30 goals across all competitions since his September 2020 transfer from Barcelona – more than any other Atletico team-mate. Karim Benzema (54) and Gerard Moreno (41) are the only players currently based in Spain to have scored more often during that time.

    Additionally, only Messi (231) betters Suarez's tally of 175 LaLiga goals since the Uruguayan joined Barcelona from Liverpool in July 2014.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.