Your complete guide to The Ashes

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The Independent Online

The key players, the legendary series and the crucial factors for 2009, plus interviews with Alastair Cook, David Gower and Mike Hussey plus much much more in The Independent's guide to this summers Ashes.

Click on the headlines below for the most in depth analysis of this summer's greatest sporting spectacle.

Alastair Cook: The first among equals

Alastair Cook is the best young batsman England has ever produced – and he has the figures to prove it. But openers never get an easy ride in the Ashes. He tells Stephen Brenkley why singing in a choir as a boy, and worming lambs on his girlfriend's farm between Tests, are the secrets of his success.

Who can decide the Ashes?

The Independent's cricket correspondent Stephen Brenkley gives his guide to the key players battling for the urn.

David Gower: 'Strauss can be very good, but there are few greats in this game'

David Gower speaks to Brian Viner about what makes a natural captain, the bottle of wine that ended his feud with Graham Gooch, and what happens when old grudges arise in the commentary box.

How England have regained previous Ashes

England have regained the Ashes at home only six times. Each series was hard-fought, many were controversial, none was dull. Stephen Brenkley tells the heroes' stories.

James Lawton: Australia are a ruthless winning machine

The Independent's Chief Sports Writer on what makes Australia such a successful team on the world stage.

Angus Fraser's key steps to winning the Ashes

Former England cricketer Angus Fraser pinpoints five key areas to target if you're to lift the famous urn.

Mike Hussey: 'I've waited for this since I was a kid'

Once billed as a new Bradman, Mike Hussey has struggled recently – by his own standards. But as he tells Stephen Brenkley, nothing could dampen his enthusiasm for taking on England.

Angus Fraser on Ashes mind games

Twenty years ago, Angus Fraser made his Test debut in the midst of an Ashes series. He looks back on the intensity of competition, the agony of watching England bat, humiliation at the hands of Aussie fans and the tears he shed along the way.

The joy of sledging

Wives, mothers, children – when a war of words breaks out, nothing is off-limits. Chris McGrath relives the history of verbal duels without which an Ashes summer really wouldn't be cricket.

Phil Hughes is Australia's danger man

Phil Hughes is the unswervingly confident batting prodigy who has England's bowlers sweating. Nick Compton, who has been his team-mate and flatmate both Down Under and during his time at Middlesex this year, reveals the Australian's talents on the pitch, and bad habits off it.

Six rules for watching the Ashes this summer

From catching David Lloyd's musings on Sky Sports to paying due respect to the Welsh, James Corrigan lays down a few ground rules for watching this summer's sporting spectacle.