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'There's no rocket science . . . if you are sledged, you're doing okay'

Graham Gooch has told England that they should treat every act of sledging from Australia as a little victory.

The former England captain, who now works as the team's batting coach, made a few caustic remarks himself following a heavy defeat in the first Ashes Test last month and is hopeful that the players will take that on board when they resume hostilities down under.

However, Gooch wants the tourists to pay less attention to the comments of their hosts and instead treat them as a badge of honour. The first Test in Brisbane was played under an atmosphere of animosity between the sides and both camps have since tried to cool the air, insisting the sledging - which cost Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, almost £2000 in an International Cricket Council fine - was no worse than normal.

The two sides have also made it clear the barracking will continue with gusto in pursuit of the urn. That is fine with Gooch, who acknowledged there is a knack to combating incidents of sledging. "There's no rocket science," said Gooch, who confirmed that Joe Root and Ian Bell are the two candidates to replace Jonathan Trott at the No.3 in the batting order.

"Generally, sledging is about getting you to play the man and not the ball, [to] get your focus off the ball. In my career, players who have dealt with it best either smile at the opposition or take it as a compliment. Generally, if you get sledged, you're doing okay."

Joe Root must be Gooch's star pupil then, after he greeted match-winner Mitchell Johnson's apparent barrage of insults during England's second innings in Brisbane with an insouciant grin. Gooch's England tutorials are just as likely to cover cricket's mind games as the refined technical nuances of bat against ball.

He will continue that process too, albeit in the knowledge that it is still down to the players to perform. "That's what I get paid to do," said the 60-year-old. "Whether they listen is another thing. You give advice. When you're playing, your desire is to reach the top.

"The player is always the master. The coach is there to shape the player; his style, technique. If he wants that advice, then that's up to him . . . different things make different people tick."

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