I think the Ashes is going to be a really intriguing series. We know Australia are a strong outfit and full of confidence. They had a good series win in the West Indies and they’ve started well in their Tour games over here, getting plenty of wickets and runs, so they are in good form.
They’ve had a bit of a blow with Ryan Harris having to retire, but they’ve got back up in that department now so, while they will obviously miss him, they do have strength in depth in the seam bowling area.
With England, there is a feelgood factor about the cricket now and there were two very interesting Test matches against New Zealand from which, I feel, there were a lot of positives to be gained.
There is a chance that all four Yorkshire lads could play in Cardiff and while we miss them playing for us, it can only be a good thing for the club. It’s a great credit to Joe (Root), Adam (Lyth), Gary (Ballance) and Adil (Rashid), but it’s good for the club that we have four players involved – it’s a fantastic achievement really and, hopefully, all four will get the nod.
It will be interesting to see whether Adil does get picked, whether the pitch is dry enough and can be seen as a two-spinner pitch, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Clearly we do miss them at county level but fortunately, at the moment we are covering their absence with the other lads in the squad and our challenge is to continue to produce cricketers to cater for when our lads do get called up by England.
Having played a couple of Tests against them I wouldn’t say playing against Australia was more difficult as such, but it is certainly a different occasion.
The two Tests in which I played against them, one was the bicentennial Test in Sydney, so it wasn’t an Ashes kind of series.
The other match was for the Ashes and at Trent Bridge and it was actually my last Test match so it’s probably not a great memory for me!
It is the whole occasion of playing Australia that makes it different to playing other teams at international level.
I don’t think they were any more difficult than the other countries I played against, but it’s more about what is at stake that makes it bigger than any other series. Nobody wants to lose against them – it’s always a hard-fought, traditional series, which is what makes it a fantastic thing to be involved in.
It’s going to be really exciting for all the players and coaches to be involved in this summer’s series – these are the kind of games that you want to be involved in as a player.
There’s been a lot said and written about sledging lately and this series won’t be a repeat of how the New Zealand series was played.
It will be competitive, but my feeling is that the umpires need to be pro-active and step in if things are getting a little bit out of hand. If they can nip it in the bud early then we’re not going to see the scenes we had in Australia 18 months ago when people were talking about broken arms and stuff like that.
Not surprisingly Dizzy (Yorkshire’s first-team coach Jason Gillespie) has very much got divided loyalties.
I think the ideal outcome for Dizzy will be for all four of our four lads to play, the three batsmen to get hundreds, Rash’ to take five wickets, but then for Australia to win – that would be perfect for him!
It’s going to be close, but if those lads that are making their way at Test level can perform then I think they can beat the Aussies and that will be key.