Five things Aussies need to do to keep the Ashes
THE Australians are going to be copping it from all corners of the field when the Ashes gets underway on Thursday night (8pm AEST).
And there's no doubt that if the Aussies are to retain the urn it's going to take a mighty effort.
Here's the five things we need to keep to have any chance in England.
1. BATTING UGLY
The spirit and grit of Allan Border needs to be revived in England.
Facing Duke balls which swing twice as much as their Australian counterparts, Tim Paine's men need to know its not how but how many that matter.
Without poise and patience, the battle is lost. As former Bradman era batsman Bill Brown used to say, in England you take the conditions rather than take them on.
This is likely to be a low scoring series featuring plenty of unglamorous scrapping. The team who scraps best will win.
2. THE R WORD IS BACK
Rotation has been a dirty word in Australian cricket but this tour it could be the key to Australia's success.
There is a chance spinner Nathan Lyon could be the only member of the attack who plays all five Tests as Australia plans to shuffle its pace options through the compressed five-Test schedule.
Australia must read the conditions well to make sure they get the right team for the right deck.
3. EGO IS A DIRTY WORD
Fast bowlers used to get dropped more often than batsmen but in the Australian Test team in recent times it has been the other way around.
The likes of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have become mainstays but if the tap on the shoulder comes they must accept their fate and get on with the job, comforted by the knowledge any setback would not be permanent.
4. PLAY THE CONDITIONS
Australia has lost four series in a row trying to play Australian style cricket in England.
Our fast men huff and puff but haven't been able to blow England's house down.
As Peter Siddle said this week, England is a conditional game for the bowlers.
When the sun is out the bowlers often have to play conservatively but when the clouds come over and the ball swings it's time to fasten the bayonets.
Knowing when to change gears is a key skill.
5. DON'T FIGHT THE CROWDS
There's only one predictable feature of this series - Australia is going to cop it from the crowds.
All series long.
Standby for ball tampering jokes from the Barmy Army by the bucketload.
Each player has to find a coping mechanism that suits them. David Warner is likely to smile and nod. Others face it, others ignore it. But no-one will escape it.
If Australia wins this series and retains the urn only then will England fall silent.