Let's end the Gabba drought
Posted in England team blog
We trained at the Gabba today. It was the first time I have been there and it gave me goosebumps when I thought about what it will be like with a full crowd.
I'm really looking forward to the first Test. I am feeling a huge amount of excitement and a few nerves, but no more than for any other match.
It's a huge honour to be taking part in the Ashes - one of the biggest contests in sport.
This series feels different to 2009, not just because it's in Australia. Last year was the first time I had played against Australia, so I have a bit more of an idea of what to expect now. That helps.
In 2009 I remember that you could not escape the Ashes. It was on TV, it was in the newspapers, it was everywhere.
In many ways it is worse this time around. Cricket is massive over here. It's like our football back home. People are always talking to you about it. Luckily I'm a bit more experienced now in being able to shut out everything that's written and said in the media.
It's important to switch off from the cricket. I have just been for dinner with Broady to a really nice Japanese restaurant. We hardly spoke about cricket. It's important to get away from it if you can. You need your downtime and it's important to chill out.
You spend a lot of the day thinking about cricket. Will we be batting first at Brisbane? Will we be bowling?
You can't just think about the Ashes 24/7, though. It's important to get out of the hotel when you have time off. The golf course is always a popular place to escape.
Our preparation has gone really well - as well as we could have hoped for. We've had three good games and won twice. Everyone is in good spirits. Despite that, the series is 0-0. What matters is the first ball at the Gabba. We are confident but know there is a lot of cricket to be played.
Australia's record at the Gabba is phenomenal - they haven't lost there for 22 years and you can't get away from that statistic. But we are going to use that as a positive. It's a challenge for us to end that record. Records are made to be broken after all. Before the last Ashes we had not beaten Australia at Lord's in 75 years but we won that Test. Why can't we do the same at the Gabba?
We had a really good training session today, then tomorrow will be more individually-based. The emphasis is on each player to do as much or as little as they want to be ready for the Test.
I like to leave the final training session knowing I am ready for the game. Sometimes it might take me three hours to get prepared, other days it might take 10 minutes. I know what I am looking for, though: is my rhythm there? Am I gloving the ball well?
It's the same with my batting. You might have a short net or a longer one but the important thing is to leave the ground feeling confident.
I could not feel better about my game at the moment. In terms of my keeping I feel I am gloving the ball nicely and am in a good rhythm. I'm happy with my batting too.
I am not sure how I will spend the evening before the Test. I will probably be wondering if we are batting or bowling. The wicket looked good so hopefully we can win the toss.
Either way I know I am going to be in the action, although hopefully not too early if we are batting. I will spend some of the evening visualising who we are playing against.
All my playing equipment is at the ground so all I need to pack in the morning is my clothes for the day. I have a ritual which I stick to - that helps me wake up in a way.
I don't have a set routine for the bus on the way to the ground. Sometimes I will chat, other days I will listen to some music.
Being the first Test there will be a few nerves so I will probably just listen to my iPod. Most of the lads will do the same. I'll listen to something which will get me pumped up. Well, anything loud enough to keep Swanny out.