England flew into Australia ahead of the upcoming Ashes series on Saturday, arriving quietly confident about ending a 24-year English drought on Australian soil, but expecting a tough battle.
Led by captain Andrew Strauss, the team arrived in Perth, where it will play its opening three-day tour match against Western Australia, on Friday at the WACA.
Strauss is aiming to become the first English captain to win the Ashes on Australian turf since 1986-87. He expects a spirited performance from the home team, but believes his team is in much better nick than when it suffered a hugely embarrassing 5-0 whitewash on its last visit to Australian shores in 2006-07.
Strauss has been buoyed by the blend of solidarity and depth in his squad, as well as the absence of some all-time Australian greats who picked England apart four years ago.
Speaking shortly after stepping off the plane, a relaxed Strauss said his side was in good shape for the defence of the Ashes title it won in 2009.
“Our greatest strength is that we are a pretty tight unit and we don't rely on one or two players,” he said.
“All 11 guys have been putting their hands up and certainly in the crucial periods.
“We can't afford any passengers in our side and you need all 11 to be performing.
The sides first go head-to-head in Brisbane on November 25, with Australia looking to reverse a slump in form which has seen it lose three successive Tests and slip to fifth in the World rankings.
“It will come down to who hits the ground running best and plays the best cricket in the crucial periods,” Strauss said, adding that “there is a relaxed excitement about the group.”
Keywords: Ashes series