by Matt Squires
After several months of glory, the England cricket team begin their defence of the Ashes against Australia in Brisbane on Thursday morning (November 21).
England, buoyed by the form of key batsman Kevin Pietersen and the return of influential vice-captain Matt Prior, will head into the series as champions, having dispatched Australia with an emphatic 3-0 test victory in the summer.
Australia, inspired by the excellent performances by the likes of Ryan Harris in July and August, are looking to end England’s successive win streak, with the Aussies failing to defeat England in the previous four attempts.
But what are the views of the people back in England?
Matthew Smart, 19, from Brighton said: “I think we have a decent chance when considering how easily we did them in the summer. The Aussies did look promising towards the end, though.”
Joe Fitzgerald, 23, from Crawley said: “It will be tighter than the last series, I think. Australia have the home advantage, but England should have enough about them to win again.”
While the general consensus is that England are strong favourites, there are still some that refuse to count out Australia.
Sean Hammond, 29, from Horsham said: “I’ve learnt with Australia that they are always capable of surprising us. I said the same thing in 2006 and they went on to win with ease.”
The 2013-14 Ashes represent a tough task for England, as Australia are desperate to prevent England winning the series for the fifth time, a feat last achieved in 1890.
While the likes of Aussie captain Michael Clarke and Shane Watson are formidable opponents, the upcoming Ashes present a significant opportunity for captain Alastair Cook and co. to secure their status as one of the most successful England teams of the modern era.
The 2013-14 Ashes begin on Thursday, November 21, and is exclusive to Sky Sports.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Michael Carberry, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Matt Prior (vice-captain, wk), Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Chris Temlett, Steven Finn, Boyd Rankin, Gary Ballance, Ben Stokes, Monty Panesar.
Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, George Bailey, Brad Haddin (vice-captain, wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon.