England form good precursor: Root

LONDON • England batsman Joe Root is determined the “spicy” nature of England’s latest clash with Australia will not prove a distraction when the arch-rivals meet for a place in the World Cup final.

Tournament hosts England and reigning champions Australia will lock horns in tomorrow’s second semi-final at Edgbaston in a fixture that takes place just weeks before the start of the Ashes series between the old foes.

Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon has already done his best to unsettle England by insisting “it’s their World Cup to lose”.

But Root, a member of the England side that lost to Australia in the group stage, told reporters at Edgbaston on Monday: “Nathan has a lot to say, a lot of the time, so you just take it with a pinch of salt.

“It might be a way of taking pressure off himself and his team. I try not to get too involved.”

Root, who was involved in an infamous altercation with Australia’s David Warner in a Birmingham bar during the 2013 Champions Trophy, added: “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.”

England have yet to win the World Cup and made the last of their three losing appearances in the final back in 1992, while five-time champions Australia have never lost a World Cup semi-final.

England, however, have won 10 of the last 12 one-day internationals between the sides.

“There has been a lot made of the fear factor of playing against Australia, but I think 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 that confidence (that we have gathered) over a long period of time now we have been successful against Australia and we should take that into Thursday.

“It’s a great chance and a great week, it does feel special.”

BRING ON THE AUSSIES

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

JOE ROOT, England batsman, on the semi-final clash against Australia.

He also believes his team can draw confidence from their run to the 2016 World Twenty20 final.

England were beaten by West Indies in the World T20 final three years ago and the hosts have 10 members from that squad playing in this year’s World Cup.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve got to this stage,” Root told the BBC. “But there’s a big crossover of guys who were in that World T20 final and they’ll draw experience from that.”

After consecutive group-stage defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia left England’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages hanging in the balance, the pre-tournament favourites rallied to beat India and New Zealand and make the last four in third place.

“What will hold us in good stead is that our last two group games were must-win games,” Root added. “We have been playing with that knockout intensity for a period now.

“It comes down to us playing in the manner we have in those last two games and, if we do that, we’ll be a very hard side to beat.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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