As soon as your kit arrives at home with the Ashes written on it you know you are about to head off on a special tour. But you are not going to war and there is no place for hatred in an Ashes series. David Warner was just trying to motivate his team and himself when he used those words recently.

It was tongue in cheek. He does not really mean it is going to be war. There might be a few words exchanged but it is hard-fought, committed cricket, combined with immense pressure you will not experience at any other stage in your career. You have to welcome that pressure.

There are players flying to Australia tomorrow with a chance of changing their lives because careers are made on the back of an Ashes series. Look at my career. Take out the two Ashes series and I would have had an average career. But I did well in Australia in 2002-03 and we won in 2005 and that was my career made.

The first week of an Ashes tour is actually quite low key. The press will hassle them at the airport on arrival looking for quotes. We have seen Australian journalists, usually from television, chasing players through airports. England can expect that kind of welcome.

In India there is a lot of media focus. In Australia it is more aggressive, but it can also be quite funny. You have to take it for what it is. You know they are not going to say how great you are. But that is probably better for this England team. They generally struggle when they get a lot of praise. They certainly will not be praised by the Aussies. It might give England a bit of an edge and determination to prove them wrong.

But once the arrival press conference is out of the way the squad can usually start working on the basics. These are important moments on a tour. England have to hit the training hard and very early.

I do worry about the three warm-up games not being of the high standard England need. The Australians will want their young batsmen to play England in the warm-up games but they will certainly not be putting out strong bowling attacks.

England will not be facing any high quality pace, the kind they will have to survive in the Test series. It means England will have to find ways of making their practice very tough.

England have to be ruthless early and pick the players they believe will play in the first Test. Do not try and be kind to everyone and give them all a game. Already there are players in that squad who have no chance of playing in the first Test. Don’t worry about them, concentrate on the guys who will be on the field in Brisbane. Look to score big hundreds in those warm-up games and win. It is what England did in 2010-11 and it sent a message that they were there to win the Ashes.

For the first three weeks of the tour it is about trying to get used to the extra bounce you will face in Brisbane and trying to gear up for the pace of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins.

There is always a lot of guff talked about facing short-pitched bowling in Australia. But I think the short stuff is over egged and England must not fall for it. Yes the tail will be bounced, but not the top order too much.

It is psychology and chat the Aussies like to bring out to scare opposing teams. England should be worrying about the basics of line and length and being strong on the front foot. England just need to look at how South Africa beat Australia last year by playing solid, basic, disciplined cricket with bat and ball.

Can England cover the bases better than Australia? They won in 2010-11 because they bowled a better length for longer and more consistently. They held on to their chances and batted for longer periods. It is simple cricket. But when teams go to Australia they worry they will be hit by something they have not seen before. There is a bit of extra bounce but it is the best place in the world to bat.

The batting unit should realise there is true bounce in Australia, the ball only swings for a limited number of overs and they do not have any mystery spinners. Australia is a place where you can set up your innings. You know the new ball will do a bit. But it is not like facing the Dukes ball in England where you are not sure when it is going to swing or when the best period will be to bat.

In Australia, in the first innings you know the opening 20 overs are hard but from then on it gets easier. In the second innings it might reverse swing a bit but it is not going to spin square. If you are focussed, confident and trust your own game then as a batsman you should be sure of scoring runs.

Teams that struggle in Australia are those that try to be too extravagant. England will not blow Australia away in three days. On Australian pitches you have to take the game into the fourth and fifth day. Play patient cricket and play a long game.

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