Nottingham, United Kingdom: Almost before he could be asked the question, Michael Clarke underscored the fact that his team came into the Ashes as the underdogs. On the one hand, this was an admission of how the teams stacked up, man for man, but on the other, it also served to take any pressure off his own team and heap it onto England's plate.
"It's very special to play in England as an Australian Test cricketer. The tag of favourites doesn't have any impact on either team," said Clarke. "I've said for a while we come here as underdogs - that hasn't affected our preparation and it won't affect our performance. We know it will be a tough series but the boys are up for it."
Clarke also suggested that while the two teams would come hard at each other, he expected the series to be played in the right spirit, irrespective of the results. "Every time I've played England it's been tough cricket, in any form. The rivalry is something you look forward to - always competitive but both teams always have ultimate respect off field," said Clarke. "I'm confident this series will be no different. On field it will be hard-fought but off the field there will be that friendship as well."