Aussies hope to reap benefits of ‘perfect preparation’
The unprecedented double-decker workload of a World Cup and Ashes campaign back-to-back in England demanded precision planning and, so far, coach Justin Langer couldn't be happier.
From dual white Kookaburra ball and red Dukes ball camps in Brisbane in May, through World Cup warm-up matches in to a seven-game Australia A tour, plenty of boxes have been ticked.
Langer was even pleased with a "pretty good" World Cup campaign which ended in semi-final defeat.
But while more than 25 Aussie players have been knocking things out on the field in England over various formats for more than a month, the off-field activity has been just as diligent, and important.
Langer and his crew of assistants have plotted a data-filled path towards securing a first Ashes victory in England since 2001 and he's adamant the preparation could not have been better.
That includes red-ball only preparation for some, like Test skipper Tim Paine who was allowed the opportunity to have a narrow, Ashes-only focus.
And the unprecedented scheduling of the all-Aussie clash in Southampton, as the final, intensity building stoush before the first Test starts on August 1 could prove the most crucial.
"Graham Hick was here with Australia A and he did some great stuff leading up to the Ashes with some of the data we were looking for, some of the match-ups we were looking for," Langer said ahead of the match in Southampton.
"We had a great team back in Brisbane who have helped us feel like we are really ready for this Ashes campaign.
"I can't think of a better preparation. We've got great facilities, we've got 25 of the best cricketers in Australia here, they're going to go head to head, they'll play tough cricket.
"We just had a World Cup so a lot of them, there's six or seven who are battle-hardened already, we've had some Australia A cricket, hopefully this is as good a preparation as we can get."
Former Test captain Steve Waugh, a back room conversationalist and one-on-one mentor for players in recent years, has stepped in to the spotlight as a key figure in the Ashes prep.
The last victorious skipper in England has already been an invaluable help to not just the players, but his former teammate Langer, too.
"If you can employ better people than you are, then do it," Langer said.
"Like Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, we've had Matty Hayden, Mitch Johnson, if you can have those sorts of people around the squad you are creating an environment where these guys can learn, get better.
"(Waugh) talks with great experience and intelligence, he's been there before."
Langer also believes having so many elite players in England all at once, with some outside the final tour match playing county cricket, and available if needed could be crucial in helping Australia keep the urn.
"This is unprecedented to have 25 players here plus a few more who aren't in this game, Ashton Agar, Glenn Maxwell, there are a lot of good players who are in the country,
"Every player wants to be in the Ashes squad. But if then they have the softer landing of a county deal then that's great.
"And it also gives us the advantage if something happens, when we cut it to 16 or 17, then we'll still have some of the guys still here.That's a really positive thing for us."