Root says seven Tests against New Zealand, India best preparation for Ashes

Before heading to Australia for the Ashes, England plays seven Tests at home against New Zealand and India. It will take on the Blackcaps for a two-match series, followed by a five-Test series against Virat Kohli's men.

Great rivalry: England’s captain Joe Root (left) and his Australian counterpart Tim Paine hold the trophy for the Ashes series.   -  AFP

England skipper Joe Root says a clean sweep against the top two Test sides — India and New Zealand — will be the best preparation in the build-up to the Ashes series against arch-rival Australia later this year.

Before heading to Australia for the Ashes, England plays seven Tests at home against New Zealand and India.

It will take on the Blackcaps for a two-match series, starting Wednesday and then square off against India in a five-Test series across August and September.

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"There are going to be constant conversations about Australia throughout this whole summer, there is no getting away from that," Root told reporters on Tuesday ahead of the series-opener.

"We have said for a long time now that we are planning towards that series and as an English fan, an English player, it is such an iconic series.

"It is of utmost importance, absolutely. But the way we are best going to prepare ourselves is by performing well in these seven Tests, by winning seven Test matches against the best two sides in the world," he added.

"Planning for Australia is something in the background, it's something we are very aware of and consistently talk about. But that won't be in our thoughts when we are out there this summer.

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"You couldn't be asking for two better opponents right now - to take on the best is what sport is all about and every Test means a hell of a lot to our players and to me. These Tests are our full focus."

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