Ashes 2019: Root urges England to 'jump on' third Test chance with Smith out

By Ben Spratt 21 August 2019 576
Ashes 2019: Root urges England to 'jump on' third Test chance with Smith out

Captain Joe Root says England must "jump on" the opportunity created by Steve Smith's absence for Australia in the third Ashes Test.

Smith was inspirational in securing a 1-0 lead for Australia after two matches, but he will be missing from the third fixture at Headingley due to a concussion after taking a Jofra Archer bouncer to the neck last time out at Lord's.

Archer was instrumental in England coming back into the series in the match, although the hosts ultimately settled for a draw.

Root wants to see Archer impress again as he compared Smith's absence to when England's all-time leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson hobbled out of the series opener.

"When you're playing someone of his quality, you're looking for a number of different ways to get him out," Root said of Archer's approach to trying to dismiss Smith.

"I felt the way that Jofra bowled in that spell made for great cricket. It's great to be on the field to be a part of that. We felt like we were creating chances all the time.

"But you never want to see someone go off injured like that, you never want to see someone be walked off the field and for him to miss this game.

"There was a lot of concern in our dressing room for his health. It's great to see that he's actually up and about and he's fine and looks as though he's happy within himself.

"It's very unfortunate on their part. We had the challenge of Jimmy [Anderson] going down four overs into a Test match and had to manage that without a replacement.

"You get these swings within a big series like this, every now and again, and when you get your opportunity, you've got to jump on it.

"They'll be huge shoes to fill for whoever comes in for him in Australia's batting line-up and we've got to make sure that we keep trying to exploit these techniques on these wickets."

Asked if Australia, led by Pat Cummins, might match Archer's aggressive assault on batsmen, Root replied: "We'll see. Those are things you have to manage within the game.

"I feel like the guys know what type of bowling [Cummins] is capable of doing. We've seen him do that before in Test cricket. It's just about managing the situation when you face it.

"If he does go to that and the conditions suit pitching it up and swinging it, and it plays into our favour, we'll have to wait and see."

England have had their own concussion issue to deal with this week, with Jason Roy set for a final assessment on Thursday after passing an initial examination.

Ollie Pope has been called in as cover and would likely come in at number four, with Joe Denly moving up to replace opener Roy.

Root would not confirm the England XI regardless of Roy's fitness, as Sam Curran remains in contention after again being included in a 12-man squad.

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