England batsman Joe Root said that there is plenty to learn from Australia, whom they play in an official warm-up match on Saturday, 25 May, and their history in World Cups.
Australia have historically raised their game at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, displaying sustained excellence and ruthless professionalism. Those are the very traits that have given them four title wins in the last five editions of the tournament.
"Australia have always had strong squads," Root told Sky Sports. "They've gone into every World Cup right up there in terms of the rankings and depth within their squad for a number of those World Cups and they've won pressure moments. So there's plenty to learn from them as a side."
Root was also excited by the challenge of taking on a rejuvenated Australian team at the World Cup. Australia have won their last eight ODIs on the trot, and that was even before the returns of Steve Smith and David Warner. With the two now back, it has only further shored up the side's strength and confidence.
"We've got two of the best players [Warner and Smith] back playing for Australia now. It's bubbling up very nicely to be a very exciting series, and I'm sure that World Cup game won't disappoint either," Root said. "We want to beat Australia's strongest side and those two are definitely in that. It's a very exciting period for us, and we've got such a great opportunity to do something very special."
Reflecting on England's own transformation into a world-class ODI team, Root put it down to a lot of hard work and hoped they could enjoy the fruits of that labour at the World Cup. Since the 2015 World Cup, England have won 58 out of their 88 matches, making them the winningest team in the interim four-year period.
"I'd like to think that the way that we've improved over this four-year cycle, we are probably ahead of where we thought we would be at this stage," Root said. "We've worked really hard to deserve the tag of the No.1-ranked team going into the tournament; I think we should enjoy that. We should get a lot of confidence from that and really embrace that and enjoy what we've been doing and take it forward into the games.
We've worked really hard to deserve the tag of the No. 1 ranked team going into the tournament.
"The best thing about it is that we are confident, but we are realistic that nothing is ever given to you in this game, and that you are going to have to continue to work very hard. To win a tournament, you have to be consistent as well."
England will play a second warm-up game against Afghanistan on 27 May, before facing South Africa in the World Cup opener on 30 May at The Oval.
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