Aussies await Ashes series

The most eagerly-awaited Ashes series for many years gets underway at Lord's on Thursday.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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The most eagerly-awaited Ashes series for many years gets underway at Lord's on Thursday. England have suffered the ignominy of losing every Ashes series since 1987. Over the same period of time, Australia have single-handedly revolutionised the game in both the Test and one-day form. England, though, are in better shape than at any time over the past two decades, and they come into the series as the second-ranked Test team in the world. Near invincible force The Australians, meanwhile, have shown the occasional stutter over recent months, and would not appear to be the near-invincible force that they once were. They recently suffered four consecutive defeats - a one-dayer and 20/20 match against England, another limited overs game against Somerset, and perhaps most surprisingly, a one-day loss at the hands of international minnows Bangladesh. After those defeats, the Australian side didn't display quite the same swagger as on previous Ashes tours - and the English press have been enjoying the opportunity to engage in a touch of 'Aussie-bashing', whilst talking up their own side's chances of victory. They have looked far more impressive in their last few matches, including a comprehensive win in the decisive final game of the NatWest one-day series against England. Up for challenge Vice-captain Adam Gilchrist says that they are up for the challenge ahead – but readily admits that the confidence of this particular England team is justified. Australia are the top-ranked Test nation, having lost only twice in their last 20 Tests - both to India. England are second and have also lost only twice in their past 20 Tests while winning five series in a row but have lost the last eight Ashes contests. (AP)