Ashes 2015: 'It was my day - but everyone will go on the attack,' says England hero Joe Root

Despite taking painkillers during his innings for an ongoing back problem, the 24-year-old starred in Cardiff

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Joe Root revealed that his sensational form since the last Ashes series has been inspired by his lowest moment in cricket.

Root was dropped for the final Test of the 2013-14 series in Australia, which England lost in a 5-0 whitewash. Since then, he averages 85.4 in 13 Tests and his superb 134 was the bedrock of his team’s batting effort on the first day here. He should have been out for a second-ball duck but was dropped by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Root made the most of his good luck thereafter to help England reach 343 for 7 on an entertaining day.

“After I was left out in Sydney it was really important to me to get back into the side and contribute as much as I could,” said Root. “It was a feeling I don’t want to have to go through again, but in this sport you have to overcome hard times.


“You have to show self-belief and confidence to overcome those times and I feel in a really good place at the moment. I could have been out second ball and looked a bit silly.

“Whenever you get the chance to put the opponents under pressure and shift the momentum of the game, you have to try to take it. Sometimes it won’t work and you might play a horrendous shot or get out, but those are the risks we are taking.”

Root’s innings was complemented by half-centuries from Gary Ballance (61) and Ben Stokes (52), and with Moeen Ali still at the crease on 26, they will hope to push towards 400 on day two.

Root had to take painkillers during his innings for an ongoing back problem, which also required treatment from the physiotherapist. But the 24-year-old played down the difficulty, describing it as “nothing too serious” and saying he had reacted like “a drama queen”.

England insisted they would maintain their attacking style in this Test and the home team were as good as their word, scoring at nearly four runs per over throughout the day. New coach Trevor Bayliss urged England to “fight fire with fire” against the country of his birth and there appears little chance they will defy him.

Root continued: “It’s something we’ve been trying to work on since the start of the summer. It was an approach we took against New Zealand earlier this year and it worked out really nicely. Fortunately it was my day today, but everyone is going to take that approach. Adam Lyth scored a century against New Zealand at Headingley playing that way and Ben Stokes played that way again today. I’m sure you will see it throughout our batting line-up.”

Before the series, Root’s average against Australia was just 33, compared with 54 overall, yet he is a different proposition from the player who struggled Down Under 18 months ago. “Based on the last time we saw him and played against him, he is England’s most improved player,” said fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, who took 3 for 70 on his first day of Ashes cricket. “The way he batted was pretty special and we have to come back with a couple of plans for how to nullify him.”

The sole “sledge” of the day came from Mitchell Starc, who produced a gem to bowl Ben Stokes before putting his finger to his lips as he ran past the England player. Starc had to leave the field later due to a sore ankle, on which he was due to receive treatment ahead of Thursday’s play.