England not afraid of Australia: Root

After a successful first home summer as Test skipper, Joe Root is hoping his side's winning form will travel with them Down Under

England finished off the northern Test summer with a bang, dispatching West Indies inside three days at Lord’s to put themselves in a positive frame of mind ahead of their departure for Australia next month.

The Magellan Ashes will be a far tougher assignment for captain Joe Root and his players even if they will face Steve Smith’s team on the back of successive home series wins against South Africa and West Indies.

Yet Root, who has enjoyed a fine start to life as his country’s Test captain after succeeding Alastair Cook earlier this year, believes there are real grounds for optimism ahead of the Australian summer.

England have been by no means perfect this northern summer, with five victories from seven Tests. The two they didn’t win saw them pegged back at 1-1 in each respective series. 

Yet they regrouped after both setbacks, coming back from a 340-run hammering at Trent Bridge to win the final two Tests against South Africa then bouncing back here at Lord’s following their shock defeat by the Windies at Headingley last week.

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It’s that resilience and character that Root and his squad will need in vast quantities when they arrive in Perth on October 29 to signal the start of their Ashes tour.

England may have won the 2010-11 series against an ageing Australian team in decline. But that success has been sandwiched by two defenestrating 5-0 whitewashes, the last of which saw Root dropped for the final Test in Sydney.

Character and guts then will be required, as well as no shortage of skill, once the Ashes start at the Gabba on November 23.

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However, they are qualities Root believes England possess as he plots to bring down Australia in their own backyard.

"We’ve played some really good stuff this summer," he said. "We had two difficult weeks but what’s most pleasing is the resilience and character we’ve shown to come back from both of those defeats with extremely strong performances. 

"I think those learnings and the manner in which we won after that is great ahead of what is going to be a very challenging winter. And along with that comes great opportunity, so if we can continue to have the same approach, keep wanting to get better, keep learning then we’ll be in a good place.

"We shouldn’t be afraid of going over there (to Australia) and, if we perform at our best, doing something really special. 

"We’ve got all the attributes to go down there and put in some really strong performances and get results. But I think it’s making sure we put the hard work in now and start preparing, so when we get to Australia we’re already one step ahead."

England’s confidence will be lifted further by the devastating form of James Anderson, who not only joined the 500-wicket club during this series decider at Lord’s but returned career-best figures of 7-42 on the final day to set up England’s crushing nine-wicket victory.

Overall Anderson has 39 wickets in seven Tests at 14.10 this northern summer. Only Jim Laker, who took 46 during the 1956 Ashes, has had more Test victims during an English season.

Stuart Broad, every Australian’s favourite Ashes villain, has had a quieter northern summer but he still has 20 wickets at 33.90.

He also overtook Ian Botham at the start of this series at Edgbaston to move into second place behind Anderson on England’s all-time list of Test wicket-takers.

The pair, who now have 894 Test victims between them, will provide Smith and the rest of Australia’s batsmen with plenty to think about. 

"Broady’s bowled some really good stuff this year and not had a lot of luck," said Root. "Between them, the pressure they create is fantastic. What a partnership to have going to Australia, all those wickets and great for the rest of the guys to learn from as well."

It seems like England have been talking about Australia for months. Indeed, this whole northern summer has been viewed through the prism of the Ashes.

But the time for talking will soon be over. Root will hope England are ready.