Monday, November 1, 2010

Strauss jets off in positive mood

The anticipation and excitement ahead of the Ashes moved up a notch when England boarded a plane bound for Australia on Friday. The squad arrived in Perth on Saturday and immediately began training ahead of their first warm up game with Western Australia in November 5th.

England captain Andrew Strauss understandably faced a barrage of questions both before and after his arrival down under, but his responses were just what fans wanted to hear.

Strauss won't get drawn into any petty slanging matches, despite the provocation from some of the more vocal current and ex Australian players. The home side may be most people's Ashes betting tips, but England still seem up for the challenge.

The England skipper knows the challenge that lies ahead but can legitimately be confident given his side's form over the past 18 months as well Australia's poor run of results which have seem them slip below England in the world rankings.

The difference between now and the disastrous 2006/07 series are already apparent. The squad is a lot more settled than the fractured unit that went to Australia four years ago, and the month long warm-up period, incorporating three practice games, is far better than the rushed job England endured in 2006. The best Ashes odds will no doubt reflect this.

But as Strauss rightly mentioned preparation and planning is only part of it. When it comes to the crunch it is up to the players to show they can handle the pressure of an away Ashes series and do what no English team has done since 1987 - retain that precious little urn down under.

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