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We won't fall for Aussie mind games, vows Root

 

Clear head: Joe Root is only focusing on England
Clear head: Joe Root is only focusing on England

By Rory Dollard

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".

That cuts little ice with Root, who is well versed in these encounters and does not intend to be dragged off course as they 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.

"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.

"I try not to get too involved. I think there have been times within games when it has got a bit spicy and there have been a few exchanges, but generally we will go about things in our own way and just get ourselves ready."

The balance of power is hard to read heading into 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.

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 Australia, but 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 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.

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, and playing Australia in a semi-final will bring up the Ashes. But the whole squad's focus is getting ready for Thursday."

England are 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. We really enjoy playing at this ground," added Root.

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