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Last Updated: Wednesday July 08 2009 16:42 GMT

England and Australia start first Ashes Test

Kevin Pietersen

The Ashes gets underway

One of the biggest sporting events around has begun, with England and Australia's cricketers clashing in Cardiff for the Ashes.

The two teams have started a five-Test series with England desperately hoping to regain the trophy they won in 2005.

That was a famous summer for English cricket, but when the teams met in 2006/07 Australia won the series 5-0.

Most experts think Australia will win and retain the trophy, but the series is likely to be very close.

Australia suffered a big blow just before the first match when their most experienced bowler Brett Lee was injured.

What are The Ashes?
Andrew Flintoff
Any matches between England and Australia are called The Ashes
The name comes from 1882 when a newspaper printed a pretend death notice for English cricket
The paper joked that the body of English cricket would be cremated and the ashes sent to Australia

He has been a key player for Australia for years and his team will hope he is fit enough to play in the second Test.

England have slight injury problems of their own, with Andrew Flintoff only just back from an operation and Kevin Pietersen perhaps not fully fit.

He has missed some recent matches with an Achilles problem, but says he is ready to play.

For England captain Andrew Strauss, the series is very, very important. He said: "An Ashes series is different to everything else.

The Ashes series 2009
First Test - Cardiff - 8-12 July
Second Test - Lord's - 16-20 July
Third Test - Edgbaston - 30 July - 4 August
Fourth Test - Headingley - 7-11 August
Fifth Test - The Oval - 20-24 August

"With the tradition, history and great battles of the past, this is what everyone wants to be involved in. It's like the football World Cup for us.

"It means a lot to the England players and we are treating it in that way."