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Trent Bridge, Nottingham (Sporting Alert) — England and Australia cricketers are ready for the opening Test of the Ashes series, following a long summer of playing the waiting game.

Venue: Trent Bridge, Nottingham Date: 10-14 July Start time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave
Live Stream On: Sky Sports Ashes

“I think I’m ready,” England captain Alastair Cook said when asked about captaining his team in the Ashes.

“I have played quite a lot of cricket now, so I feel pretty experienced – and as a captain as well, I think I have grown into it.

“I have got a huge amount of learning still to do, because I think the only time you really do learn is out there in those situations.”

England heads into the first Test, and indeed the entire series as the favourites, with several former players predicting a completing whitewash in favour of the home side.

With the return of Kevin Pietersen and the likes of Jonathan Trott, Cook and Joe Root, who has been promoted to open the batting after Nick Compton was dropped, England top order is expected to provide most of the batting power.

At the sometime, the bowlers, led by quicks Stuart Broad and James Anderson will make life very difficult for the Aussies batters who will be under the microscope in the series.

Australian fast bowling legend Glenn McGrath has warned England not to underestimate the tourists in the Ashes, stating that while Cook’s men are the team to beat, he believes the former world no.1 side can surprise the hosts.

“England are the favourites,” McGrath told BBC Radio 5 live. “But being underdogs could work in Australia’s favour.

“They have nothing to lose.

“Unless there’s rain, I think there will be a result in every Test. I have to say 2-1 to Australia.”

Meanwhile, after missing the ICC Champions Trophy, captain Michael Clarke has recovered from a back injury to be ready for the opener and he’s has ready to come out and lead from the front as he goes in search of big scores.

“Everybody is fit as far as I know. I‘m 100 per cent fit. It was nice to play a couple of tour games to get some match practice under my belt,” Clarke said.

“I’ve got to deal with my back every day of my life. Though this series will be no different. It will be great to be back on the field with the boys.

“It’s about time I scored some runs for Australia. The other guys will be fine. They are looking forward to this challenge. I’m going to make sure I‘m focussed on my job.

“I’ve got to make sure I’m scoring runs and leading by example. I’m really confident in the other guys.”

There is still no news about the Australian XI, with many wanting to know if David Warner will be selected.

At his press conference, Clarke revealed that he knows who will be playing, but remains tight lipped.

“I know the XI and the players do know,” the captain said. “But at this stage I can’t announce it and we‘ll do so at the toss.

“This is a long series, everyone wants to take part but you can only fit 11 into the first team.”

He added: “I think for us to have success it’s going to take the whole squad. It takes the whole touring party.

“The players that aren’t playing know they have to keep working hard to get an opportunity. Their involvement around the XI that takes the field is just as important.”

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