England Prepare for The Ashes

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Believe it or not, we're just a few weeks away from the start of that most fiercely contested tussle between old cricketing foes England and Australia, The Ashes.

Believe it or not, we're just a few weeks away from the start of that most fiercely contested tussle between old cricketing foes England and Australia, The Ashes.

Hot on the heels of this summer's contest on English turf, the sides will battle it out down under in a series commencing November 21st. England are clearly taking no chances when it comes to taking their winning run to four series on the trot – they're already out in Australia, training, acclimatising and limbering up.

<b>Flower Power</b>

One of England's most powerful weapons in the preparations for the series is unquestionably their brilliant and charismatic coach <a href='http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Flower' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>Andy Flower</b></a>.

Always a man to do things on his own terms and in his own way, Flower enjoyed a noteworthy international cricketing career playing for Zimbabwe, which was cut short in untimely fashion when he spoke out against the country's reprehensible dictator Robert Mugabe.

Now an exceptional coach and long-standing fixture for England, Flower has continued to forge his own path, forgoing the high-tech paraphernalia that so often goes hand-in-hand with sports coaching these days, instead favouring a rootsy, down-to-earth approach, all planned out in a coffee-stained A4 notebook with nary an iPad in sight…

Flower is ambitious and focused on success, but in spite of this his methods are far from Draconian. His plans for the England squad in the build-up to The Ashes are as much about personal development and fun as they are about fitness and tactics.

He summed up his philosophy when he told members of the media: "We want the guys to go out and have dinner together, have a dance and just enjoy each other's company. We want them to explore the country, go to the beach, go canoeing. We want them to finish the tour of Australia enthusing about the country and saying it's been the best two or three months of their lives.

"We want to have fun too, and part of that fun is about improving ourselves. One of our principles is constant improvement."

<b>England's chances</b>

Few would disagree that England approach this Ashes contests as comfortable favourites over the Aussies. However, if England aces Cooke, Anderson and Swann misfire, that could all change alarmingly quickly.

England remain a comfortable bet for the series, which is bad news for patriotic betting enthusiasts out to earn some winnings. See the <a href='http://www.thegreek.com/' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>online sportsbook</b></a> at thegreek.com for some tastier odds on closer contests!

<i>For more stories from the world of cricket, click</i> <a href='http://www.cricket365.com/' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>here</b></a>.

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