Root's defiant message to confident Aussies

Joe Root has told Australia to "bring it on" if they set out to target him in the Ashes series, insisting England are better prepared for the host's aggression than four years ago.

 

Root's wicket will likely be the most prized English scalp this summer, given his standing as captain and world No.2 ranked batsman.

Australian spinner Nathan Lyon certainly had no doubt last week that he and the three-pronged pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood would make Root a hunted man across the five Tests.

Vice-captain David Warner, who had an off-field run in with Root in 2013, also called for umpires to be more lenient on sledging between the two rivals during the series.

But Root said if the Aussies wanted to go after him, beginning with next week's first Test at the Gabba, he would take it in his stride.

"I've heard a lot of chat about them targeting me in particular," Root said on Tuesday.

"Bring it on. it's what it's about. You want that competitive element and there are little in-house rivalries.

"It should be a great series and they've got some great players within their squads and some good characters which will make for a great Test."

Regardless, Root insists the English are in a far better position for Australia's aggression than when they suffered just the third 5-0 Ashes whitewash in 2013-14.

Back then, Mitchell Johnson tormented the visitors with fast-paced short bowling, while Michael Clarke's infamous broken arm comment to tailender James Anderson highlighted the hosts' sledging.

"I think last time maybe caught us out, I think we're a lot wiser to it this time around," Root said ahead of his side's last warm-up game against a Cricket Australia XI in Townsville.

"We're expecting it to be hostile and a very loud and rowdy atmosphere (in the Tests). Hopefully we'll be in a really good place and ready for that.

"I think we've got our heads around what to expect. It's just making sure that we do everything we can to feel ready with the bat and the ball."

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