Strauss predicts the 'greatest Test'

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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss insists England are full of confidence going into the decisive final Test of the Ashes series.

The England captain will lead his team at the Brit Oval tomorrow knowing that the destiny of the urn is still undecided.

The hosts will start as underdogs but Strauss believes that will give them added incentive to prove they can compete on every level with the Australians.

"I think we're good at that (being underdogs)," he said. "We've shown that in the past and I think we can take a lot of confidence from the fact it's 1-1 in the series at the moment.

"It's probably where both teams deserve to be at the moment.

"There's no reason for us to be negative at all. We got on top of them twice in the series and we need to do that once more."

This Ashes series has been closely contested apart from England's disastrous showing at Headingley.

And Strauss insists they have learnt their lesson from that dismal batting performance in the last Test.

"It's the Ashes and its pretty hard not to be motivated," he said. "It's a special occasion for all of us. Hopefully the crowd will get right behind us.

"It's got the potential to be one of the greatest Test matches any of us have ever played.

"We're all pretty excited at it and hopefully we've learnt a lesson from Headingley and we're not going to get ahead of ourselves.

"We'll make sure we start the game well and if we do that then we've got a good chance."

Strauss knows that England cannot afford any slip-ups if they are to regain the historic trophy.

"Australia are a tough nut to crack," he continued. "There's a lot of spirit in their camp.

"They've dug deep even when we've been on top.

"As is always the case with Australian teams, if you want to beat them you have to be at the top of your game."

The 32-year-old was a key part of the winning 2005 England team and is fully aware just how much it means to lift the Ashes.

But, four years down the line and as captain. Strauss knows that if England can manage to sneak the series 2-1 it would top that.

"It's a huge moment in my career and one I'm exceptionally excited about," he said. "When you've played a number of Test matches it's these sort of games that really float your boat.

"These are the games you want to perform well in and lead by example.

"I'm really excited by it and can't wait to get out there.

"In fact I know there's a general feeling among the guys that they're determined to enjoy these five days."