The word’s best
cricket team landed in the UK overnight and though it’s been a low-key
arrival, anticipation of the Ashes battle is at its highest since
England last held the Ashes in 1989. This time around, it’s the Aussies wearing
the “Dad’s Army” tag, but anyone who thinks this aging
bunch of mostly 30-somethings is about to take its foot off the Poms’ throats should think
again.

England will be encouraged by its two Test series whitewash against
Bangladesh, but the battle for The Ashes is another
matter. Ponting has wasted little time
in dismissing England’s series win as insignificant. “It could be a bit of an
advantage for us the way the summer has panned out with us having a long break
and then ten one-dayers before the first Test,” he said. “It could seem like the end of the summer for
England and we have got time to get playing. We are all looking forward to this tour immensely; the build up has been
big-time already. This is a big tour for
us – it always is – but especially because it is number one in the world
against number two. It should be great all round. It is an exciting time for us
and world cricket now.”

New opening batsman Andrew Strauss is the England player who has the
Aussies most intrigued after he scored five centuries in his first 12 Tests. Such was his authority in scoring 656
runs in the away Test series against South Africa earlier this year that former top line South African fast
bowler Allan Donald claimed he had “never seen any visiting player bat as well,
with so many match-winning performances – not Brian Lara, not Mark or even Steve
Waugh. Strauss was the difference between the two sides.”

Interestingly, Strauss at the
weekend presented his journalistic credentials to the Aussies with a thoughtful
profile on Adam Gilchrist for the UK’s Daily Telegraph. His article “The good guy with all the right
answers”
observed of the Aussie smash and run wicket-keeping titan:

His character, however, seems
more atypical of an Australian. He doesn’t get too involved in sledging, he
walks when he knows he has hit the ball, and it’s hard to imagine him being a
part of any of the off-field controversy of some of his team-mates. In short, he
is the all-round good guy of the Australian team. He dominates and humiliates
opposition on the pitch with the manner of his play, and then is always the
first in their dressing room afterwards to share stories and pass on
advice.