Joe Root targeting clean sweeps of New Zealand and India and the first 100 per cent Test summer since 2004 to propel England towards the Ashes as his opposite number Kane Williamson insists there will be no Lord’s trauma from World Cup final heartbreak
- England’s first Test against New Zealand starts at Lord’s on Wednesday
- Two-match series is followed by five Tests again India later in the summer
- Captain Joe Root is aiming for a clean sweep of seven England victories
- That will ensure confidence in the side is sky-high ahead of an away Ashes series
- It’s the first time New Zealand have played at Lord’s since 2019 World Cup final
- They were agonisingly beaten by England but insist it won’t cross their minds
Joe Root has called for the perfect summer as his side prepare for the Ashes, starting with Wednesday’s first Test at Lord’s.
The England captain wants seven wins out of seven against New Zealand and India — a feat not achieved in a home season since 2004, when Michael Vaughan’s team beat New Zealand 3-0 and West Indies 4-0.
And if that means whitewashing the two top-ranked sides in Test cricket, Root knows that the only way to challenge Australia in their own conditions this winter is to set the bar as high as possible, as early as possible.
Joe Root (left) and Kane Williamson pose with the trophy ahead of England vs New Zealand
Root walks back from the nets at Lord’s during Tuesday’s session in sunny conditions
The England captain trains with strength and conditioning coach Phil Scott on Tuesday
‘We’ve said for a long time now we’re planning towards that series,’ he said. ‘You talk about readying a side — winning seven Tests before going to Australia is the best way of doing that, filling the side with confidence.
‘Implementing that gameplan we talk about frequently, being smart about taking 20 wickets, big first-innings runs — these are things that work well in these conditions, but also in Australia.
‘To be playing against the two best sides in the world is a great opportunity for these players. If we keep growing, learning, bettering ourselves, with the full focus on these two series, naturally we will be in a good spot when the Ashes come round.’
The England captain took a diving catch in a slip fielding drill as new wicketkeeper James Bracey looks on
Stuart Broad will be Joe Root’s vice-captain for England’s first Test with New Zealand at Lord’s
Broad speaks with captain Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood ahead of the opening Test
England and New Zealand will join in a ‘moment of unity’ before the game, standing quietly on the boundary edge as part of cricket’s campaign against all forms of discrimination. Root said his players would take part in three projects this summer aimed at taking the game to diverse, under-represented and hard-to-reach communities in a bid to convince those who have felt excluded by cricket that it is a sport for everyone.
‘The start of last summer unearthed some ugly truths in society and in our sport,’ he said. ‘We have spent a lot of time talking about how we can better our game, how we can educate ourselves more. With the projects, we can continue to look to grow the game.’
Meanwhile, Kiwi captain Kane Williamson has played down concerns that his side will be spooked in their first match at Lord’s since the 2019 World Cup final, which England won on boundary countback after a tie and a super over.
James Bracey will be England’s wicketkeeper for the opening Test match of the summer
Bracey has come into the team following Ben Foakes’ injury and will make his Test debut
‘It was a fantastic game of cricket,’ he said. ‘It’s a different side now, and there has been some time since that day. Our focus is on the cricket we want to play as a Test side — there is no thought of that day. We were both part of a fantastic game decided largely by things outside both teams’ control.’
New Zealand have won only one of their 17 Lord’s Tests, back in 1999, but Williamson was unfazed by that as his team prepare for the World Test Championship Final later this month against India at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl.
‘Historical stats don’t count for too much,’ he said. ‘But we still know the challenge is a fierce one. England are incredibly clinical in their conditions.’
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson addresses his team ahead of their net session