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England captain ready for Ashes battle

LONDON, October 28, 2010 (AFP) – England captain Andrew Strauss has told his players to be ready for war when they face Australia in the forthcoming Ashes showdown.

Strauss has no intention of fostering friendly relations with Ricky Ponting’s side until the series is over because he believes too much light-hearted chat could dilute his side’s killer instinct.

The 33-year-old, who was due to fly out to Perth with his squad on Friday, has instructed his players to keep their distance during the five-Test battle, which gets underway in Brisbane on November 25.

"Ultimately, until the end of that fifth Test, they’re two sides at war with each other," Strauss said.

"Both sides know that, at the end of the series, 11 guys are going to be feted as heroes and 11 guys are going to have failed in their task.

"Until that final Test is over, there’s no point in being too hunky-dory and friendly with the opposition; our task is to go out there and beat them.

"I don’t think it’s about anger; it’s about being clinical and logical, and dealing with the pressure well.

"It’s not about us hating the Australians or anything like that; it’s about us going out there and beating the other 11 guys on the park."

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Strauss saw at first hand just how ruthless Australia could be four years ago when England were whitewashed 5-0 Down Under and he is desperate to bury the ghosts of that series.

"We’re out there to win. Simple. That’s our goal," he said. "Everything we’ve done, every decision we’ve made up until now, has been about us winning this Ashes series.

"Every decision we make from now on will be about winning this Ashes series.

"None of us want to have any regrets at the end of it."

England have not won an Ashes series in Australia for almost a quarter of a century but Strauss said: "There’s nothing to be overawed about. It’s a tough tour; there’s no doubt about that.

"But if you’re prepared for it then you shouldn’t be overawed. I think there’s a real relaxed excitement about the troops at the moment because they feel ready."

England have also won only three of the last 26 Ashes Tests on Australian soil, all of them dead rubbers.

"For us to waltz over there and strut around and think we’re just going to dominate proceedings would be wrong," Strauss said.

"But, at the same time, I think there’s a great, deep, fundamental belief that we can go out there and win.

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"If we turn over those previous statistics, that’ll highlight the scale of the achievement."

Bringing back the Ashes would see Strauss go down in history as one of the country’s great captains.

"We’re all aware of the opportunities that are there this winter, not only with the Ashes but with the World Cup as well," said Strauss, who led by example as England regained the urn last year.

"Potentially, this could be one of the greatest winters ever for English cricket.

"But that’s a long way off and to start dreaming about it or thinking about it at this stage is unhelpful."

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