Time for the talking to stop
Posted in England team blog
There has been so much written and said about the Ashes - now we just want to get out there and start playing.
The team are ready to go and our preparation has been excellent. The week in Warwickshire went fantastically well. All the players got something out of it.
Playing in the Ashes means a huge amount to me. You try to rationalise and say it's just another game of cricket, but there are so many people talking about the Ashes that you can't escape it. You try and chill out in front of the TV and suddenly an advert for the Ashes comes on. I want to enjoy the experience though.
I have been asked about my Ashes memories but my answer is always really lame. When I was growing up I just wanted to watch good cricket, so in many ways the importance of the Ashes was lost on me. It probably wasn't until 2005 that the Ashes made a real impression on me. That year the country really got behind the England team. It's simple if we want the same thing to happen this year - we need to play well and win matches.
We will respect Australia but we won't fear them. We will go hard at them. We have a lot of confidence at the moment. We back every player in our dressing room.
Brett Lee is a very good bowler so losing him will be a blow for Australia. He had found some form against England Lions last week too. His absence won't change our plans though. They still have a strong bowling attack without Lee.
I saw some of Australia's tour match with my county Sussex at Hove. I popped into the ground few times. Sussex played pretty well and almost chased down 419. They finished about 30 runs short but did well to get close.
I spoke to a few of the guys about about Australia. I don't normally like to talk to too many people though - one person will say a bowler moves it one way, another person will say he moves it the other way. When you are out there yourself you have to deal with it, so I find it's better not to listen to too many people.
I have played at Cardiff twice - once for England against South Africa which was washed out, and then for Sussex v Glamorgan. I think I have played about 44 overs there.
We have been given a fantastic welcome since we arrived though and I'm sure it will be a great experience for everyone.
I think the talk about it being a huge turning pitch has been blown out of proportion. I have played at a lot of grounds for Sussex which were totally different when I played there for England.
I'm useless when it comes to reading wickets though. Anyway, whatever it does we feel we have all bases covered.
It comes down to whoever performs the best and executes their skills. It's all well and good playing well in the nets and at training, but you need to take that onto the pitch..
It's important for us to keep everything in perspective this Ashes otherwise we will never be able to get away from the cricket. It's a huge series but it's just a game of cricket.
I'm lucky as my five-month old boy keeps me grounded. We live in a bubble of nice hotels and room service - there is nothing like changing a nappy at 5am if you want bringing back to reality.
I'm pretty chilled out at the moment. For me my relaxation comes with my preparation. If I have done the necessary work before the game then I can relax. It's when I haven't prepared properly that I get nervous.
I had a brilliant session this morning so I am feeling ready. I will probably have a swim this afternoon, some dinner tonight then a decent kip tonight.