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Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 11:54 UK

Strauss confident of Ashes glory

First Ashes Test, Cardiff: England v Australia
Date: 8-12 July Scheduled start: 1100 BST
Coverage: Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave, Red Button and BBC Sport website, plus live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles. Live on Sky Sports


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Strauss confident for first Ashes Test

England captain Andrew Strauss says he is confident his side can get off to a winning start when the Ashes series against Australia begins on Wednesday.

Strauss will lead his team out in Cardiff and said: "An Ashes series is different to everything else.

"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."

England will wait until Wednesday morning before naming their XI, but batsman Ian Bell will not feature after he was released from the squad so he can play for Warwickshire.

Strauss believes key all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who shone in the dramatic series win four years ago, is desperate to once again play in a winning Ashes team.

Flintoff also captained England when they suffered a 5-0 whitewash to Australia in 2006-07 and Strauss says that makes him even more determined.

"Freddie has settled in brilliantly and is very motivated to play well in this series," added Strauss.

You can have any other tournament you want but to have the chance to play in the Ashes is everything

England's Andrew Flintoff

"It's great to see him with the bit between his teeth - he feels as though he has some unfinished business."

Flintoff said the thought of playing in an Ashes series drove him on while he was recovering from a recent knee injury.

"The Ashes is in the back of your mind," admitted the 31-year-old. "When I was in the gym and trying to get back to fitness, it was all about playing in the Ashes.

"The reason you do all the rehab is to put on that England shirt, to get the chance to play in an Ashes series.

"I'd have loved to have played in the Twenty20 World Cup because it is a great tournament, but the ultimate is the Ashes.

"You can have any other tournament you want but to have the chance to play in the Ashes is everything. It is the biggest thing for an Englishman to play in."

Strauss, meanwhile, admits a good start in Cardiff - which has never hosted an Ashes Test before - is crucial in the five-match series.

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"You definitely want early momentum in a series like this because once you go behind it's hard to pull it back," added Strauss.

"I guess both teams are looking to gain some early confidence and you can only do that by playing some good cricket." Australia go into their first Ashes series since the retirements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.

They have also suffered a major blow with fast bowler Brett Lee ruled out with a hip injury but Strauss is nevertheless expecting a stern test of his side's credentials.

"We have to be wary about how much we talk about Brett because although he's a fantastic bowler, whoever replaces him will complete a strong attack," said Strauss.

"They will have a good balance and we will be expecting a severe examination right from the start - the worst thing we could do is assume the bowling attack will be worse off without him.

"It's true that Australia have lost some players with aura so maybe it's not quite as intimidating as it used to be, but we're expecting some hard cricket.

"We know what it is like playing against the Aussies but we won't be bullied this series, we will go toe-to-toe and look them in the eye.

"The 11 guys who go out there on Wednesday will be very proud people and over the next few weeks there will be some epic moments."

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Fast bowler Stuart Broad, who will be playing in his first Ashes Test, reckons there is no-one more capable of exploiting the potentially seamer-friendly conditions than pace colleague James Anderson.

"I think swing is going to be a huge part, whether it is reverse or conventional swing," said Broad.

"That is something we will be working on. Cardiff has quite a lush outfield so it might not reverse as much as we hope, but hopefully it will swing conventionally.

"We have the best swing bowler in the world in Jimmy Anderson and we are looking forward to getting going and putting our skills into practice."

Broad's fellow paceman Graham Onions of Durham and Yorkshire all-rounder Tim Bresnan have been added to England's performance squad for the summer.

The pair impressed against West Indies earlier this summer, and Onions is in the squad to face Australia in the first Test.



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see also
England make solid start to Ashes
08 Jul 09 |  England
McGrath expects Aussie whitewash
07 Jul 09 |  Australia
Moores backs England to win Ashes
07 Jul 09 |  England
Injured Lee to miss Ashes opener
06 Jul 09 |  Australia
The Ashes: head-to-head
04 Jul 09 |  Cricket
England gear up for the Ashes
04 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
06 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Harmison misses out on Test squad
05 Jul 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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