As though tensions between England and Australia aren’t high enough ahead of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge next week (check out the latest Ashes odds with bet365), Aussie paceman James Pattinson has delivered the first verbal blow after revealing opponent Joe Root will come under fire from Australia’s sledge offensive.
Cricket betting fans know Root is the youngest man in the England side but he’s coped well at six and a step up to the top order is due following the dropping of Nick Compton. He’s already felt the force of Australia’s aggression after being punched by David Warner in a nightclub last month and now looks set to be the butt of the Aussie vocal attack this series.
“There is an art to sledging these days. You have to pick the ones you sledge to,” Pattinson told BBC Sport. “Obviously there is going to be pressure on Root. He has done well at six but [moving up the order] will be a new challenge for him.”
Not content with bowling at an inexperienced 22-year-old who is under enough pressure as it is, Pattinson clearly sees Root as an avenue from which Australia’s pack can hunt with confidence. He should share the first-Test morning session with Mitchell Starc – well versed on the English wickets following two county summers at Yorkshire – and if the pair begin well they shouldn’t need to resort to sledging.
In suggesting Root is a target, is Pattinson actually admitting he hasn’t got anything else in his arsenal from which to hurt this young batsman?
There is an art to sledging but also a time for it. Sports punters know you don’t sledge when you don’t need to and for Pattinson to head into the first Test with a well-revised script under his hat suggests he feels the need to intimidate Root from the off.
Root’s no idiot and won’t be deterred by Australia’s brash remarks. Instead, it is more likely to spur him on in the wake of Warner’s attack and this batsman is not a player you want to aggravate. Root has a magnificent shot selection and can bat at varying pace so if Pattinson wants to get under his skin he should bowl a bouncer or two and leave the sledging until he’s actually done something of note.