Although this coming Ashes is the most eagerly anticipated of series, the England captain Andrew Flintoff was yesterday trying to urge his team to concentrate on the here and now: the Champions Trophy in India.
"Our immediate concern is this present series," Flintoff said as the team arrived in New Delhi. "Yes, we are preparing for the Ashes, but our target is capitalising on the momentum that has been with us ever since our semi-final win against Australia during the previous Champions Trophy in England."
However, while that momentum has rarely been seen outside the five-day game, Flintoff is backing his young team to exceed expectations in India. "We have had a tough summer in one-dayers," he said. "We have played some strong opposition and our inexperienced side showed a lot of character and came up with fine results. We have had quite a few captains due to injuries but ...the way we drew the series against Pakistan was amazing."
While Flintoff was concentrating on the Trophy, Shane Warne was looking ahead to the fight for the urn and believes England made the right choice in choosing Flintoff as captain.
"It's an aggressive move," Warne said. "I'm sure he will do a good job. I don't think it's a risk. You look at the candidates and I think he will need someone like Andrew Strauss. At times he will go to Strauss to work out the right time to bowl, etc. He [Strauss] can keep an eye on things while he's bowling. But I think it's a good move from England."
Ashley Giles says he is almost ready for the "biggest challenge any of us will face in cricket".
"I'm at the end of the hip injury and very confident that the rest of the winter is going to go fine," the 33-year-old said. "Physically I'm in the best shape I've been in [for] a decade."
Meanwhile, Glenn McGrath, rather predictably, has predicted a 5-0 Ashes victory for Australia.
* The West Indies took just 14.2 overs to chase down Zimbabwe's paltry 85 and win their opening Champions Trophy qualifier by nine wickets yesterday.Reuse content