MOUNT MAUNGANUI (AFP) – England captain Joe Root has declared himself free of any Ashes hangover as he looked to revive his fortunes and those of his team in the two-Test series in New Zealand starting today.
Root said he had been working on his batting shortcomings and denied the Test captaincy weighed on his performance in the drawn mid-year series against Australia, in which he suffered three ducks as England failed to regain the Ashes.
Neither England nor New Zealand were prepared to name their line-ups for what will be the maiden Test at Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval ground. But Root said rising star Jofra Archer “would bring something different to what we had previously” in the bowling stakes, indicating the paceman will be included.
New Zealand will not be fighting fire with fire – their genuine quick Lockie Ferguson is in the squad for the first time, but captain Kane Williamson said he would sit out the first Test.
Root, who averages 47.91 but was well off his best with an average of 32.50 against Australia this year, was adamant the pressure of captaincy was not an issue.