Captain Joe Root says England’s squad can win the big moments to secure an Ashes win in Australia and that he’d be foolish not to understand this series will define him.
Set for a third tour and second as captain - his first was his first overseas tour as skipper - Root will walk out at the Gabba on Wednesday as the world's top-ranked Test batsmen in rare form.
His 1455 runs in 12 matches at an average of 66.13 are already the fourth-most by an English batter in a calendar year, while he’s poised to overtake Alastair Cook as the country’s most-capped skipper in Sydney’s fourth Test.
But he's yet to score a Test hundred in Australia and England, regularly humbled in Australian conditions for the past 30 years, are chasing their first Ashes series win away from home in a decade.
The rise of Pat Cummins to captaincy for Australia adds another element, with the pair's head-to-head battle looming as a key factor.
“Absolutely it is, you look at how hard it has been for English captains and English teams over the years,” Root, who led a team that lost 4-0 in Australia's last home Ashes series, said.
“It’s been something that doesn't happen very often. Of course it will define my captaincy – I’m not naive enough to think that it won't - but again, what a great opportunity.”
In his favour is the return of allrounder Ben Stokes, who showed form with bat and ball in last week's warm-up game in an important first step back after a break from cricket since July.