England captain Joe Root said Friday that it was “extreme” of Australia adversary David Warner to compare the upcoming Ashes series to “war”. Opening batsman Warner received widespread criticism in England when, asked in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation earlier this month what the Ashes meant to him, he replied: “The history, the pride that is at stake. As soon as you step on that line it’s war.”
He added: “You try and get into a battle as quick as you can. I try and look in the opposition’s eye and work out how can I dislike this player, how can I get on top of him. You’ve got to find that spark in yourself to really take it to the opposition. You have to delve and dig deep into yourself to get some sort of hatred about them.”
Root, asked what he made of Warner’s remarks, told reporters at Lord’s on Friday: “I wouldn’t say that’s exactly how I go about it. It’s a competitive sport, everyone goes out there desperate to do well, desperate to win, I would never refer to it as war, I think that’s a bit extreme.”
Warner was banned by Australia for part of their 2013 tour of England after punching Root in a Birmingham bar and during the return 2013-’14 campaign in Australia – which saw England lose the Ashes 5-0 – he suggested some of the tourists’ batsmen had “scared eyes” during the first Test in Brisbane.
“You know what you get with David,” said Root. “What you see is what you get. He’s passionate, he wants to do well for his country and it’s going to be a very entertaining series.”
Boycott warns of ‘rough time’
Warner has since appeared to row back from his comments and England great Geoffrey Boycott was among those who believe he had over-stepped the mark. “I thought it was an unfortunate remark. Cricket is hard and competitive and played with emotion, but I hope it’s not war,” Boycott told reporters on Friday. “Unfortunately, he is among some Australians who can’t or won’t see it like that,” the BT Sport pundit added. “They see beating England as the most important thing in their sporting calendar.”
Boycott, a veteran of several Ashes campaigns in a Test career spanning three decades, warned an England side captained by fellow Yorkshireman Joe Root to expect plenty more verbal abuse before the series was done. “Some of the Australian players, some of the Australian public and many of the Australian media will give our side a rough time,” he said.
“Our players will have to stand up to it,” added Boycott, a veteran of several Ashes campaigns spanning three decades. “Every team who has been there has had to, me included. You don’t have to like it, or accept it but it will be like that.”
Ashes-holders England fly out to Australia on Saturday, with the first of a five-Test series starting in Brisbane on November 23.