‘Playing for England is all that matters,’ insists Joe, as he prepares for first Ashes in Australia

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He has been seemingly destined to pull on an England shirt since he first picked up a cricket bat, and his imminent demotion to number six for this winter’s Ashes series has divided opinion throughout cricket.

But Joe Root isn’t interested in all that - the 22-year-old just wants to play for England.

“The competition amongst the squad is very healthy at the moment,” said Root, who will bat at six with Michael Carberry opening in the First Test in Brisbane.

“Everyone has contributed really well in all departments so far, and we are very happy as a camp.”

Carberry cemented his place at the top of the order with scores of 78, 153* and 50 in England’s warm up games.

“He’s played exceptionally well on this whole tour so far,” said Root, who himself has hit two half-centuries so far.

“He’s got some really good scores together and it’s really pleasing to see him take his chance.

“I just love playing for England, regardless of where it is in the line up.

“To get to put on the shirt and cap, that’s the main thing for me.”

Root gave England, who were still sweating over the fitness of wicketkeeper Matt Prior, another injury scare during his knock of 75 against an Invitational XI when he sustained a knock on his finger.

“It’s alright - it’s a recurring injury, but I played through it all last summer so everything should be fine,” he said.

“You get them a lot playing cricket. I just need to be careful with it.”

It is fair to argue that even a broken finger couldn’t dampen Root’s enthusiasm for the game - and the prospect of an upcoming Ashes series ‘Down Under’.

After scoring 339 runs at an average of 37.66 during England’s home Ashes win in the summer, there were fears that dropping him back down to six - where he made his Test debut in India - may damage his confidence.

Not a chance.

“The fundamentals are the same, between batting at one and batting at six,” the Yorkshire opener added.

“You still prepare pretty similarly, apart from you get to sit down and put your feet up for a while before you put your pads on!

“That’s the only real difference.

“I’ve just tried to score some runs and make sure I’m in good form.

“I’m looking forward to the series.”