Ashes belief growing for England

Paul Collingwood is convinced England truly believe in themselves as Ashes winners this winter.

Today's 10-wicket victory over Australia A in Hobart completed what Collingwood sees as near perfect preparation.

The success was sealed with almost a full session to spare at the Bellerive Oval, on the back of Ian Bell's wonderful innings of 192 and a sound all-round performance from England's back-up attack, led by Chris Tremlett with match figures of seven for 121.

Collingwood himself helped Bell pile up a crucial sixth-wicket stand of 240, after England had - for the third time in three attempts on tour - stumbled to a vulnerable position in their first innings.

On each occasion they have extricated themselves, Collingwood missing out narrowly on a hundred twice in succession - here and at Adelaide last week.

The upshot is two wins from three matches and by far the best of a rain-affected draw against South Australia last week.

Australia A captain Cameron White (111) refused to go quietly today, as did opener Phil Hughes (81). But Tremlett followed the example set by Tim Bresnan yesterday - like the Yorkshireman putting himself on a hat-trick at one stage - and despite some afternoon frustration at the hands of the impressive White, England got the job done again to put themselves in great heart for the start of the Ashes in Brisbane on Thursday.

Collingwood acknowledges the extent of the challenge they face to beat Australia down under for the first time in almost a quarter-of-a-century, up against opponents traditionally so strong on home soil and intent on wresting back the Ashes after defeat on their tour of 2009.

"Both sides have pressure on them, because we all know what the prize is," he said. "We hope now we have the genuine belief we can do it out here. I'm not 100% sure we've had that in the past. But I can safely say this time round we have."

Success at the Gabba is particularly hard to come by for touring teams, and the outcome of the first Test of five will clearly be hugely significant.

But Collingwood insists bucking such trends is one of England's favourite missions - as they proved, for example, with an elusive victory over Australia at Lord's last year. "The team see it as a challenge," he said.

"Whenever we have come across these sorts of challenges in the past - whether it be not winning at Lord's for 70 odd years - the guys really like it.

"Brisbane is one of those places where it is obviously difficult to get a result, because Australia have been very strong.

"But that just makes it even more exciting for us.

"We've got a good mix of guys who've experienced Ashes here in the past (and those who haven't). You wouldn't say there are mental scars there; it's more motivation to do well this time round."

Collingwood spoke stirringly six months ago of England's determination just before they beat Australia, under his captaincy, in the ICC World Twenty20 final in Barbados.

Borrowing from the same phrase book again, he appears to prize the Ashes at least as highly as that historic first success for England in an International Cricket Council global tournament.

"This is the ultimate; this is what we play the game for.

"We get tested, and this is the biggest challenge we can have as cricketers.

"It's something we've been waiting for a long time, and to get this opportunity is a great feeling.

"We're raring to go."

England discovered today the 13 names from which Australia will choose their team in Brisbane.

Among them are leg-spinner Steve Smith, the only inclusion from the A team England have beaten over the past four days, and left-arm orthodox Xavier Doherty.

The latter would be making his Test debut should he be picked, while Smith has just two caps.

Having taken a caning from Bell two days ago, Smith - bowled shouldering arms first ball by Tremlett this morning - must hope his normally reliable batting sneaks his inclusion.

Like Collingwood, he confirmed this winter's series as an unrivalled event for any English or Australian cricketer.

Smith divulged too that home tactics will centre on trying to undermine England captain Andrew Strauss.

"We always look to target the captain.

"If we can get under Andrew Strauss' skin and get him early and among the middle order that will be great for us."

Either way, he is just hoping he gets his chance. "The Ashes are the pinnacle for an Australian cricketer," said Smith.

"To be involved, I hope, will be a dream come true."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral