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We are accustomed to Australia’s mind games, says Root

Hosts England take on Australia in the World Cup semi-finals at Edgbaston on Thursday.

Joe Root insists England will not get caught up in Australia’s mind games (Nigel French/PA).
Joe Root insists England will not get caught up in Australia’s mind games (Nigel French/PA).

Joe Root admits things can get “spicy” when England face Australia but says any attempt at mind games will fall on deaf ears ahead of this week’s World Cup semi-final.

With the Ashes just a few weeks away, the old rivals come face to face in another high-stakes clash at Edgbaston on Thursday, with a place in the Lord’s showpiece up for grabs.

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon has already kicked off the traditional psychological battle, telling England “it’s their World Cup to lose” and nominating the hosts as firm favourites.

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Australia’s Nathan Lyon has upped the ante ahead of the match (Mark Kerton/PA),

That cuts little ice with Root, who is well versed in these encounters and does not intend to be dragged off course as the nation look to reach the final for the first time since 1992.

“Nathan has a lot to say, a lot of the time, so you just take it with a pinch of salt,” he said of the off-spinner’s contribution.

“It might be a way of taking pressure off himself and his team. It has happened for years. Look back at when Glenn McGrath played and (he predicted) 5-0 every time. It’s just part and parcel of when you play against Australia. That’s how they like to prepare themselves and get themselves ready.

“I try not to get too involved to be honest. I think there have been times within games when it has got a bit spicy and there have been a few exchanges on the field, but generally we will go about things in our own way and just get ourselves ready as best we can.”

The balance of power is hard to read heading in to the fixture. As reigning champions and five-time winners Australia hold all the cards in terms of tournament experience – particularly as England have yet to win the trophy and have a uniformly dire record since finishing as runners-up 27 years ago.

They had, though, won 10 of the last 11 ODIs between the teams prior to this summer only to come unstuck in the group phase at Lord’s.

There has been a lot made of the fear factor of playing against Australia, but I think for this group of players over the last four years their experiences against Australia are very positive Joe Root

“There has been a lot made of the fear factor of playing against Australia, but I think for this group of players over the last four years their experiences against Australia are very positive,” said Root.

“They have got a lot of success in the bank. We will be drawing on the confidence that over a long period of time now we have been successful against Australia and we should take that into Thursday.”

Regardless of the result this time the key protagonists will be renewing hostilities in Birmingham in less than a month, with Edgbaston hosting the opening Ashes Test starting on August 1.

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Joe Root says England’s focus is firmly on the World Cup, even with the Ashes less than a month away (Nigel French/PA).

The urn is never far from anyone’s mind where England and Australia are concerned but Root, who captains the red ball side, insists matters at hand take priority.

“All the guys have been, naturally, speaking about the Ashes at different times in the summer and are really excited about it,” said Root.

“The closer it comes the more talk there will be about it and playing Australia in a semi-final will bring up the Ashes. But the whole squad’s focus is getting ready for Thursday and making sure we do everything we can to get to that final and make it a very special week.”

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England have an excellent recent record at Edgbaston (David Davies/PA).

The dynamics of the crowd this week are expected to be slightly different to the usual Edgbaston experience – the rampantly partisan atmosphere mitigated somewhat by the fact many Indian fans snapped up tickets in case their side wound up involved in this match.

Yet England remain more than happy to be walking out at a venue where they have won 10 on successive occasions across formats.

“It is great to have the record like that in the back of your mind. We really enjoy playing at this ground,” said Root.

“We always get good support and I’m sure anyone who has tickets and comes to the game will be fully behind us. It’s always been somewhere I’ve enjoyed turning up to play.”

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England’s players celebrate winning the Ashes on the final day of the fifth Test in 2005 (PA)

Recalling the 2005 Ashes series success, Root added: “I can remember it as a kid and really being absorbed in that whole series at 14 years old, it was magical.

“And for us to have a similar opportunity, on a slightly different scale maybe, is very exciting – and it is great to see people showing a huge interest in cricket.

“It is great that this group of players are playing their part in getting people interested and it would be brilliant if we could take that even further by doing what we have done in the last couple of games.

“Every player wants to see the game grow and flourish so it would be great to be able to help do that by achieving something very special.”

PA

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