Project Ashes: England captain Joe Root says win in Australia would be the 'shepherd's pie'

January, 2021. The Lighthouse Hotel is in Sri Lanka.

An interview that will not be broadcast for another 10 months is what England captain Joe Root is doing.

It is one day after India's stunning win in Australia that England will have a new captain in the form of Joe Root.

Does he have any concerns as he looks towards Australia?

It would be great if we could get there with a fully fit squad. It has hurt us on previous tours.

Is this the best year of his career?

I would say that.

The day before he flies to Australia, the day before the beginning of November, England's Joe Root is speaking to the Project Ashes.

Had he known what was going to happen in the months that followed, he might have said something.

Project ashes is returning the urn.

His batting went to heights that even angels fear to tread. During the course of the year, Root's bins were out more often than he was.

England has been held together by the captain. He has been the solid stick running through an ice cream of a team that has been on the verge of melting into a mess.

Whatever England had in mind for the build-up to the Ashes, what actually transpired must not have been it.

It's not gone exactly how we would have liked, with just one win in nine Tests since February and the worst return in a home summer in 22 years.

Performances with the bat have been less than what we'd have liked. It has been a challenge.

There have been a lot of injuries to fast bowlers that were supposed to go toe-to-toe with Australia's pace battery. It was possible that Jofra Archer could have been such a force.

We have put the players' welfare at the forefront of everything we have done. It was to the detriment of India's performance.

"It's hard when Jasprit Bumrah is running at you to think about the trip to Australia."

The English game has been engulfed by a racism scandal. During the first Test of the home summer, the England dressing room was thrown into turmoil by the historical social media posts of Ollie Robinson and Azeem Rafiq, who made allegations about Gary Ballance's time as an international cricketer.

In terms of playing personnel, Root boarded the flight to Australia with his friend, deputy and talisman by his side.

It was thought that Ben would miss the second tour for non-cricket reasons.

His late addition to the England squad changed the entire dynamic of the series, not only for his immense talent, but because of the potential effect on an Australian team that must have nightmares over his match-winning century at Headingley in 2019.

"It will give everyone a huge boost going into the tour, because we know what he is capable of," says Root. He has done it against Australia.

The English cricket team lost to Australia in a whitewash in the first Test of the series in 2013-14. The final Test was dropped.

Four years later, England's first overseas captain was beaten. He was admitted to the hospital because of dehydration.

England were blown away by an Australian aggression not only limited to their fast bowlers. Mitchells Johnson, Ryan Harris, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Pat Cummins have all been supplemented by snarling cricketers in baggy green caps.

"It's important that we have a clear idea of how they will try to attack us and counter it," says Root.

Don't be afraid of it or take a backward step, but be brave in our own way. Don't try to be Australia in Australia, but the best version of ourselves.

We'll be fine if we do that.

We're going there to win, not to be part of a tour. The mentality has to be it.

If England are to have a chance of winning the series in Australia, they need to score runs.

The tourists can explore other plans with the ball if they have a total on the board.

In Australia, each of the four guys - Ben, Bairstow, Malan and Stokes - have scored a hundred. The skipper is the only man in the squad with a career average over 37.

He says that they need big scores. That's not putting pressure on our batters. We should relish that challenge.

Australia is a great place to bat. It can get flat. You have to manage the bounce well and come through the odd barrage of short-pitched bowling, being wary of different kinds of dismissal. It can be a great place to score runs.

No man will captain England in more Tests than the 30-year-old Root. He will have been in the job for about five years, which is the maximum amount of time modern skippers have been able to take.

There is a lack of options to replace him and the man himself has not given any indication that he is about to step down. When Australia come to the UK in 2023, it's not likely that Root will still be in charge.

Even if he still has spells of losing tactical sense in the field, the skipper has been just as impressive in his off-field leadership as he has with the bat.

One of English cricket's most exclusive clubs is the one that has a winning men's team in Australia. Since World War II, only five England leaders have won the away series.

It will take a lot for Root to join it, as his team has won just four Tests under this century and a personal record of eight defeats in nine matches with a batting average lower than in every country he has played in.

He says that one of the reasons he struggled in Australia was because he wanted it too much.

I'm not going there to not care, but to enjoy the whole spectacle of the series, rather than putting too much pressure on myself.

"Be sure to trust it." Go and play. I've played cricket in the past year. I can lead from the front and hopefully that will help the rest of the team.

I'm very proud of what we've achieved as a team, but nothing would compare to winning in Australia.

It would be the shepherd's pie. The best of the best.