Ben Stokes claims he is ready for whatever Australia’s wind-up merchants have in store for him during this summer’s Ashes.
The tourists are expected to target England all-rounder Stokes, who has already been involved in a number of on-pitch bust-ups in his relatively short international career, when the Investec series gets under way in Cardiff next week.
But the 24-year-old insists he is not about to shy away from any confrontations and said: “I’m definitely expecting some feuds out on the pitch.
“I don’t go looking for it and I don’t go out of my way to cause an argument, but if someone comes at you on the pitch in the heat of the moment and the adrenaline is going then no one in this squad is one to shy away from it.
“We all have different ways of handling it. Some guys walk away from it and don’t get involved but I’ll look them in the eye and probably say something.
“I think it’s a strength of mine. Being in a battle, you don’t want to be the loser. I don’t want to take a backward step and let them know they are on top of me, or that they can say what they want and get away with it.”
Stokes does not have particularly happy memories of his only previous Ashes experience, the 5-0 whitewash Down Under 18 months ago.
But England head into this latest instalment on a high following a remarkable one-day series win and a Twenty20 triumph over New Zealand earlier this summer.
Stokes said: “My Ashes memories are not too good, but we are taking a lot of confidence into this series. We are in a really good frame of mind at the moment and we want to carry on the good form that we have strung together.
“One-day cricket is now coming into Test cricket – strike rates are up to 60 or 70. We have a young middle order who like to play their shots.
“We have the confidence to play how we want to play, no matter what the situation. Carrying on like that will do us the world of good this summer.
“It’s not all about hitting fours and sixes, it’s about having intent in everything you do.
“We will still have same approach. Australia might have a better bowling line-up, with a bit more pace, but we will have the same approach.”
Essex opener Tom Westley revealed he had been sent a message of congratulations from England captain Alastair Cook after hitting a superb century as Australia’s bowlers struggled to make an impact on the rain-hit second day of their tour match at Chelmsford.
Australia had been put into bat on a favourable wicket and, after resuming yesterday morning at 440-6, Mitchell Marsh’s 169 combined with quickfire knocks from tailenders Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle helped them post what looked a formidable 562 following a 30-minute delay before lunch for rain.
However, Australia pacemen Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood failed to make any early inroads as Essex produced a stubborn response, led by Westley’s 144 and 86 not out from captain Ravi Bopara as the home side replied with 299-3.
“I checked my phone and I have had a message from Cooky already, it was just ‘well done and congrats, I will give you a call over the next couple of days’,” said 26-year-old Westley, who was promoted to opening bat following a finger injury in the field to Nick Browne.
“My father and uncle were here, so it is a fantastic feeling to score some runs, and hopefully I can get some more.
“I thought I was lucky at some times, it is a tough wicket to bowl on with not much in it, but Australia have all bases covered.
“We spoke about just trying to be positive and fortunately it came off.”
Westley added: “We have been playing really good cricket and just want that to continue, if we can bat well [today], then who knows, but we are in a good position.”