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Ashley Giles backs Joe Root to captain England in next Ashes series

England's team boss says Root is the right man to lead on the next Ashes tour.

Ashley Giles has backed Joe Root to lead England's next Ashes mission, saying regaining the urn in Australia represents "the Holy Grail" for the Yorkshireman.

England were unable to overcome Australia on home soil in a Test series for the first time in 18 years this past summer, but attention has already shifted towards the next contest Down Under in 2021/22.

Root has presided over two unsuccessful campaigns against Australia but there is a recognition from Giles that England's Test fortunes in recent years were encumbered by their successful pursuit of the World Cup.

Joe Root has presided over two unsuccessful campaigns against Australia (Mike Egerton/PA)
Joe Root has presided over two unsuccessful campaigns against Australia (Mike Egerton/PA)

Giles, the managing director of the England men's team, wants to redress the balance with an aim to give Root the best chance to make it third time lucky against Australia.

"We have talked about him leading and winning in Australia," Giles told the BBC's Test Match Special. "We've not said 'maybe if you get there'. We plan for him to be our captain.

"It will come round quickly as we know with the business of the schedules. None of us know what is around the corner, things can change quickly.

"But in our planning when we sat down (before the start of the last Ashes series), we were looking to Australia.

"That's the Holy Grail for him. Going to Australia and winning is the big prize and we have enough time to plan for that.

The latest Ashes series ended all-square at 2-2 - with Australia retaining the urn (John Walton/PA)
The latest Ashes series ended all-square at 2-2 – with Australia retaining the urn (John Walton/PA)

"Whatever people say there was definitely more focus on white-ball teams in the past few years. We're not moving everything to Test cricket, we've got to find a balance on all forms that are important to us.

"We'll see a more traditional way and playing the long game with ball or bat. Sometimes with ball you have to stick in, refer to plan A and if in doubt go back to plan A."

Giles believes it is crucial Root and head coach Chris Silverwood, who was appointed as the successor to Trevor Bayliss last month, find a method to succeed in Test cricket.

He added: "This is a really exciting period, this new relationship with Chris Silverwood.

"With these two, we've talked about them finding a DNA for Test cricket. What do they want their Test team to look like? I don't think we've seen that for a couple of years now."

Giles was speaking in Whangarei, where England are in their final preparations ahead of the Test series against New Zealand, while an onerous winter schedule next takes in South Africa before a trip to Sri Lanka.

Three Australians – Will Pucovski, Glenn Maxwell and Nic Maddinson – have taken a break from the game to focus on their mental health, which has shone a light on the players' busy schedules and the pressure they are under.

Giles said: "It is definitely a concern of ours. The mental wellbeing and welfare of our players is crucial. We've got a number of players who perform across all formats and their schedules are incredibly busy.

"It looks like a great lifestyle being on the road and being in hotels but these guys are serious professionals and spend a lot of time under stress.

Glenn Maxwell has taken a break from cricket to focus on his mental health (Simon Cooper/PA)
Glenn Maxwell has taken a break from cricket to focus on his mental health (Simon Cooper/PA)

"One of the things we've looked at is the role of Mark Saxby who has been around with the team for a long time as a our massage therapist, but for years he has been a lot more than that.

"He's been a shoulder to cry on at times, a mentor and a sounding board on the bed when he's been massaging players. He is taking on more responsibility now on the welfare front and with our culture.

"It is very important to me, tour on tour, that we have some short term checks on the group. Are there any red flags? Anyone we need to worry about? "Our care of the players and their families is really important."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina29171662
United StatesUnited States22251764
JapanJapan1761033
AustraliaAustralia1441533
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12211750
Great BritainGreat Britain11121235
Today's Olympic highlights header

Tuesday's key events


DIVING
· Team GB duo Jack Laugher - silver medallist in Rio - and James Heatly take part in the men's 3m springboard semi-final (2am), and will hope to qualify for the final later in the day (7am)

ATHLETICS
· Two Britons are involved in the women's long jump final, but Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers have their work cut out to get a spot on the podium (2.50am)
· Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who broke the world record just last month, goes for gold in the men's 400m hurdles final. USA's Rai Benjamin is expected to be his main challenger (4.20am)
· Great Britain have three representatives in the final of the women's 800m, with Jemma Reekie having perhaps the best chance of a medal (1.25pm)
· A mouth-watering women's 200m final sees Elaine Thompson-Herah go for the prestigious sprint double after claiming the 100m crown. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Namibia's Christine Mboma and USA's Gabrielle Thomas are expected to be her main competitors (1.50pm)

SAILING
· The rescheduled women's skiff 49er FX (4.33am) and men's skiff 49er (5.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races
· Defending champion Giles Scott bids for a second successive gold in the Finn class medal race (6.33am)
· There is another medal chance for Team GB in the mixed Nacra 17 medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Joe Fraser takes part in the parallel bars final, kicking off the final day of artistic gymnastics (9am)
· USA superstar Simone Biles, who has been forced to pull out of all of her finals so far, is on the starting list for the beam final as she bids for a fifth Olympic gold (9.50am)

FOOTBALL
· The men's semi-finals take place, with Mexico taking on Brazil first up (9am)
· The winner of that first semi-final will face either hosts Japan or Spain (2pm)

CYCLING
· Laura Kenny will look to win a third straight Olympic team pursuit gold medal. Team GB take on United States in their heat (7.44am), with the gold medal race later that day (9.26am)
· Laura's husband and fellow Olympic legend Jason Kenny will also look to continue his huge success in the men's team sprint - an event he has won gold in at every Games since 2008. Team GB will first need to get through the men's qualifying (7.58am), with the gold medal race ending the session (9.44am)

BOXING
· Pat McCormack will be looking to achieve his dream of Olympic gold when he faces Cuba's Roniel Iglesias (11.05am)

> Today's schedule in full
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