The Ashes 2019: Root ready to lead from the front

Joe Root's desire to lead from the front has persuaded him to take on England's problem number-three role in the Ashes.

Joe Root will come in at first wicket down as England looks to wrest control of the urn from Australia.   -  Getty Images

England captain Joe Root explained his increasing ease with being the team's leader motivated his decision to move up to number three in the batting order for the Ashes.

Root will come in at first wicket down as England looks to wrest control of the urn from rival Australia over the next seven weeks.

There has long been a clamour for the 28-year-old to take on that high-pressure role, given his status as the most gifted batsman in a team that frequently loses cheap wickets at the top of the order.

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Having captained England to a 4-0 defeat in Australia 18 months ago, Root's growing assurance as skipper helped persuade him to take the plunge.

"I think it's important that we spread the experience out. It gives me the opportunity to lead from the front as well," he told a pre-match news conference on the eve of the highly anticipated series opener at Edgbaston.

"I also feel now that I'm in a place where I've got my head around dealing with the captaincy and my batting – being able to separate the two. Hopefully it's an opportunity for me to make an impact at the top of the order."

Joe Denly came into the England side as an opener for this year's tour of the West Indies, meaning he will take on his third batting spot of a four-Test career in Birmingham to accommodate Root's elevation.

Jason Roy backed up his blistering World Cup form with a half-century on his debut in the longest format against Ireland at Lord's last week, but Surrey colleague Rory Burns – himself a Test debutant in Sri Lanka last November – has failed to reach 30 in his past six international innings.

As a collective, it does not present the most intimidating prospect to Australia's much-vaunted seam attack, but Root is confident of its prospects and placed an onus on Roy to take the attack to the tourist.

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"I think it's a very exciting top order," he said. "I want Jason to go out and play in his own manner. Naturally he has the ability to put any bowler under pressure at any given time. That's very exciting.

"The most import at thing is that as a group we keep things very simple and are focused and continually work hard on those big partnerships that contribute to winning."

Another World Cup hero, Jofra Archer, must wait for his Test bow after James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes were named as England's frontline seam attack.

The 24-year-old fast bowler was England's leading wicket-taker but needed a post-tournament lay off due to a side strain, with Root keen not to risk his fitness as the games come thick and fast in a compressed five-match series.

"Jofra's obviously coming back from quite a serious injury," he said. "We looked at the conditions and we made a decision on what we thought was best going to take 20 wickets here.

"It also allows him time to get absolutely ready and fit and make sure his workload is up and ready to go for later on in the series if he needs to make an impact."

Australia has named former captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft together in its squad for the first time since the trio served suspensions for their part in a ball-tampering scandal.

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Smith's successor Tim Paine used his briefing to talk up the high standards of behaviour set in his regime – albeit by mistakenly attributing a quote to Winston Churchill – but Root feels such matters should not be a focus of the England dressing room.  

"We'll see how that unfolds over the course of this series, but their behaviour doesn't really concern me," he added. "My concern is we go about things in our own way, we know what we're about as a side and how we want to go about things.

"It's really important we look after that and don't get too wrapped up in how they play their cricket."