England begin their Ashes campaign of Australia tonight bidding to improve upon the total humiliation of four years ago by returning home with something closer to abject failure.
The last tour of Australia, with the retired brewery silo Andrew Flintoff as captain, ended in a 5-0 whitewash in favour of the Australians that only the most realistic of England supporter envisaged.
Captain Andrew Strauss said, 'The boys are overly keen to get among it now. They are fully aware of the importance of not wasting any time in displaying to the Australians our true level and we need to show it right from the start.'
'In the nets we have been fantastic. The intensity has been good with Alistair Cook in particular demonstrating what he is all about. After his century against South Australia myself and the coach were concerned he might be flattering to deceive, but the following day he was back to his best, slogging away at wide ones, nibbling at a line outside off-stump with footwork Anne Widdecombe would disown.'
'I ask the nation to give us the first session at the Gabba to restore the doubts of old and dispel the unreasonable amount of hope people seem to have and let us get on with what we do best, capitulating in the International spotlight.'
Sir Ian Botham echoed the sentiment.
'English sporting tradition dictates how we will play. We've been here thousands of times before but the people never learn. Every time, be it football, cricket, rugby they believe we are going to do it. But rarely do we.'
'History is our biggest competitor, and unfortunately he is a very capable opponent.