Ashes 2015 - Matt Prior column: England can have a special summer

Our new columnist Matt Prior knows what it takes to win the Ashes, and here the former wicketkeeper looks ahead to the latest series and assesses the two teams

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The Independent Online

A few months ago, I think there was a sense that this summer’s series was going to be a non-event – the Aussies would turn up, give us a thumping and then head home. I don’t think that’s the case any more and there’s something building, you can feel it.

The series against New Zealand has really revived a huge amount of positivity and hope for England fans. People are into it, they’re saying: “You know what, we’ve got a chance here.” That’s a huge change from the  way everyone was feeling after the World Cup.

With this new-look England there’s a lot of confidence and also a huge amount of excitement, because I think this side is going to go out there, go toe-to-toe with the Aussies and play some really positive cricket. There’s a hope and a belief that England can do something special. I think the arrival of Trevor Bayliss as coach is brilliant for England. He’ll bring that Aussie mentality and he’s completely unburdened by history and what has gone before in the Ashes – it’s a clean slate and a fresh start.

I think there’s a couple of things that can play into England’s hands. First, you can’t get away from the fact that there’s a huge amount of expectation on the Aussies’ shoulders. Everyone is expecting them to turn up and win 5-0. It was the same with us in 2013, and that brings with it a huge amount of pressure. All of sudden you’re winning Test matches and people are still criticising you because you haven’t won in three days or didn’t win by enough runs. Winning an Ashes Test, any Ashes Test, takes a colossal effort.

Secondly, let’s not forget that this Australia side is full of players who have never won here and that, potentially, is a big factor, not just because of the previous defeats that the likes of Michael Clarke and Shane Watson have suffered, but also because playing an Ashes series away from home is completely different.

England need to make sure they harness the advantage the home crowds can give them, and for the guys playing their first Ashes series here, they need to make sure they enjoy it and embrace the pressure that comes with it.

This country is going to be gripped by cricket for the next two months and that kind of opportunity doesn’t come around very often. Everyone remembers what happened in 2005, and let’s not forget that we beat them 3-0 in the last Ashes series here.

England have won three home series on the bounce – I see no reason why they can’t make it four.

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