Geraint Jones to preview the Ashes on BBC One tonight

Wednesday 24th November 2010

The wait is very nearly over as later tonight, UK time, the greatest cricketing theatre begins as England and Australia commence their battle for the Ashes at the Gabba in Brisbane. The much coveted urn is currently in England“s possession but the big question is can the Aussies wrestle it back? It promises to be another pulsating series.

For England, the build-up has been serene. Finally the warm-up matches have been taken seriously and Andrew Strauss knows his strongest side. His opening partner Alastair Cook has made runs, the bowlers have taken wickets and the skipper knows his troops are ready: "We have prepared as well as we can do in the time we have had available to us. We have been thinking about this series for a long time now. It’s a big challenge to go to Australia and win but we have left no stone unturned in terms of making sure we hit the ground running. Preparation only takes you so far, you still have to front up when it matters and win the crucial sessions but I have every confidence that our players can do that."

The excitement is clearly building in the camp with key spin bowler, Graeme Swann, summing up the mood in the dressing room: “When we first got over here I daren“t think of the first Test match – because I was like a kid on December 1, with an Advent calendar. It“s going to be amazing – I just can“t wait.”

A repeat of the 5-0 whitewash, suffered in the last series down under in 2006-07, is unlikely and with the English boys ready, they are many bookies tipping England as favourites to retain the urn. Retired Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff agrees with those sentiments: "Looking at the two teams, I reckon we’ll beat them."

For the Aussies the build-up has been less than straight forward. Batsmen Michael Hussey and Marcus North are out of form, vice captain Michael Clarke is struggling with a back injury and skipper Ricky Ponting is coming under persistent criticism. However, with the Australians, you just know it will come together when it matters. The skipper is typically bullish about the chances of his side: "It’s absolutely possible [we could whitewash England]. There’s no reason why not. We’ve learnt from a lot of the mistakes that we’ve made. There’s no doubt we made some mistakes in the last Ashes series in England that cost us the series. But we know now that we’re a more experienced and probably a better team now than we were then."

The Brisbane Test will set a trend for the series. The first session could even dictate the vibe of both sides. Last time England went to Australia, Steve Harmison“s first ball failed to hit the strip and ended up in Flintoff“s hands at first slip. The tone was set. The Three Lions need to roar from the off this time around. If they do then that treasured urn could remain in the tight grip of Strauss.

Supporters of Kent and England, living in the south east, have the opportunity to hear from wicketkeeper Geraint Jones later today. The popular gloveman recorded a feature interview with BBC South East presenter Rob Smith earlier today. Viewers will get the chance to see the footage between 6.30 and 7.00pm. Tune in to BBC One to see Geraint and Rob discuss the Ashes and England“s chances against the Aussies.