Ashes Diary: The wait is over but there's plenty of talking to come

Brisbane. 25th November, 2010. Tomorrow. Here at last. I have waited all my life for this. When I was a little boy the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne did everything for me. It was what I dreamed of.

But for now it's Brisbane. Yesterday, I sat on The Gabba outfield with Bruce French, England's wicketkeeping coach, and tried to soak up the atmosphere. We talked a bit of nonsense, a bit about keeping and a bit about what it would be like on Thursday morning.

Since arriving in Brisbane the atmosphere has changed. Walking through town in the past few days the air is charged, possibly helped by the gathering of England fans. The Barmy Army is here.

They are not, apparently, everybody's cup of tea. But the England team loves them. They can lift the team, their support is invaluable. A joke or a chant from the Barmy Army can rejuvenate the joviality on the pitch. They really are worth having.

The build-up for England could hardly have been better. Two wins and a draw in the warm-up games, the bowlers taking wickets, the batsmen scoring runs. There is an unmistakable sense that we have, partially at least, earned the respect of the Aussie public.

Four years ago, when I was here with the England A team squad, we were based in Perth. We trained on the beach in the morning and got sledged most days.

I expected when we got here that the taxi drivers would sledge us, the guy next to you in the lift would have a go and that the hotel concierge might join in. It has not been like that at all. They seem glad to have us here and happy that we're performing well. Having said that, I'm not expecting them to turn up tomorrow morning waving union jacks and cheering on good old England.

When you play Australia, much is made of the sledging that might occur. Too much probably. It has been reported in some quarters that I intend to take a vow of silence in this series. It was a slight misinterpretation.

I want to leave my mark by scoring a hundred, or making the winning runs, or taking a game-changing catch. The guys you're playing against are top international sportsmen. Talking to them is not going to have any effect, they have heard it all before.

But there are bound to be some incidents in the series, moments when it might be necessary to have a word or two. As keeper I see myself as the fielding captain. I cajole and enthuse, make sure the ball is returned properly from the field. That little thing helps in so many ways, ensuring fielders keep their arms loose, making sure the ball is dead and just being good for the image of a well-drilled fielding side.

Things could not have gone better. But nobody is kidding themselves. When we go out on to The Gabba tomorrow it's 0-0 and all to play for against an Australian side that will not give anything up easily. All I can promise is that the way England play will bring limitless passion to the cause.

I won't be alone in dreaming dreams of what might happen, about whether we bat or bowl, about what occurs after that. But tomorrow there will be no more imagining. We'll be doing it in Australia for the Ashes, for real, and I can't wait.

Matt Prior supports NatWest CricketForce, the largest volunteering initiative in UK sport and registrations are now open for 2011. For more info, visit www.natwest.com/cricket and sign up to this month's bulletin

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week