Ashes 2017-18: Joe Root says England do not have drinking culture

Cyril Smith
There’s no drinking culture in England side – Root

Captain Joe Root says England players have to “make sure” off-field incidents “don’t happen again”, but denies there is a drinking culture in the team.

All-rounder Ben Stokes, 26, was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm after an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September.

He will not fly out with the squad on Saturday for the Ashes series in Australia which begins on 23 November.

“We know it wasn’t good enough,” said Root.

“We are grown men and we know how to behave and we’ll make sure that we conduct ourselves well on this tour.”

Stokes was named in England’s 16-man touring squad, but he was replaced by Steven Finn after the Sun newspaper published footage allegedly showing Stokes in a street brawl.

Root, 26, said preparations for the Ashes tour have been without his vice-captain in mind.

Alex Hales was with Stokes when the incident took place and was later interviewed under police caution, but his lawyer said he would be “surprised” if he faced further action.

Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow and bowlers Liam Plunkett and Jake Ball, who were part of the night out but not involved in the incident, were warned by the ECB.

‘The pinnacle of Test cricket’

Root was dropped during England’s Ashes tour of Australia in 2013/14

Root is relishing the opportunity to prove himself in Australia, after a difficult series in 2013/14 when he struggled for form and was dropped before the Sydney finale which resulted in a whitewash.

“It’s the pinnacle of Test cricket for an Englishman, isn’t it?” he said. “There is so much on the table, so many opportunities and so much that excites me and I can’t wait to get out there.

“The point I want to prove, this is just another opportunity to do that over there. I’m a different player to what I was the last time we were there and that excites me.

“I want to go there and score as many runs as I can and contribute. It’s an incentive to get off to a good start with my batting and lead from the front.”

Australia batsman David Warner has compared the imminent series to a “war”, saying the hosts would work up some “hatred” for their opponents.

But Root said England’s players will not be fazed by such bravado.

“They’re a good side and they’re very confident but so are we,” he said. “If you don’t believe you can go over there and win there’s no point getting on the plane.

“I look the players in the eye and they’re all keen to go out there and determined to win and come home successful. I don’t have to convince them it can be done. They all believe it.

“We have England’s two most successful bowlers, two leading run scorers and some players desperate to make their mark, with a group in the middle continually improving and getting better year on year.”

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