Recently married Henry Blofeld says that England could be on the end of an Ashes series whitewash if they are beaten in the second Test.
The wait is almost over for the start of the Ashes series in Australia. Here's our preview of the pivotal First Test in Brisbane.
Essex fast bowler Reece in line for PCA's Young Player of the Year
England are facing an uphill struggle to save the first Ashes Test after a disastrous batting collapse resulted in them being bowled out for 136.
Mitchell Johnson in particular terrorised the English batsmen, taking 4-61 in an inspired spell of bowling as England struggled in the Brisbane heat.
Michael Carberry top-scored for the tourists, hitting 40, but apart from that there was little resistance.
Essex star and England captain Alastair Cook could only make 13 at the top of the order, but England still looked set for a decent total with the scoreboard at 82-2.
However, in a phenomenal turnaround, England lost six wickets for just nine runs with Johnson and Ryan Harris causing mayhem.
It could have been even worse had Stuart Broad not registered a battling 32 to temporarily halt the slide, but England found soon found themselves on the back foot again, this time with the ball, as Australia got off to an ominous start in their second innings to reach 65-0 at the close of play.
It means that England already face a deficit of 224 runs with three days left to play with the need for quick Australian wickets on day three an obvious necessity.
England have no reason to feel intimidated by the Brisbane venue for the first Ashes test, according to captain Alastair Cook.
England are bidding to win at the Brisbane Cricket Ground - known as the "Gabba" - for the first time in 25 years.
Cook said the experience of his side would help break that unwanted record:
"A lot of players in this squad were here in 2010/11 - we've all got experience of winning in Australia.
"We're trying to use that to the best of our ability, and we know how important this game was last time for setting up the series. We certainly don't fear anyone."
The wait is almost over for the start of the Ashes series in Australia.
England will be hoping to retain the urn under the captaincy of Essex star Alastair Cook.
The first days's play gets underway overnight in Brisbane.
Veteran Essex bowler David Masters has signed a one-year contract extension with the county.
The 35-year-old joined Essex in 2007 from Leicestershire and has been the leading First-Class wicket-taker at the club for four years in a row.
He made 16 LV=County Championship appearances last season, taking an impressive 51 wickets in the process.
He'll now stay with Essex until the end of the 2015 season.
Speaking to the club's official website, Masters said that he was happy to extend his stay:
“I am very happy to a have signed a new contract with Essex.
"Being 35-years-old, this will take me up the age of 37 and I want to play for as long as I can.
"This is a great step for me to continue playing cricket for as long as I can continue to perform on the pitch."
England captain Alastair Cook has been warned he'll be facing a fired up Australian attack in the upcoming Ashes.
Aussie fast bowler Mitchell Johnson was speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald saying the Kangaroos will be targeting Cook and fellow batsman Jonathan Trott.
Asked about Essex batsman Cook, Johnson said:
"If I can get a few of those rearing balls towards the ribs or those throat balls, and if he gets in the way of it, that's his own fault.
"You'd rather get the wicket more than anything; you get a lot of joy out of that when you get a player like that out.
"I have a look at last summer, and (Sri Lanka's Kumar) Sangakkara was an example. I've busted his finger, and he's one of their best players.
"So they were one short, and I got a couple of those in the middle order. If you can't get them out, that's the second option."
Cricket has often been called a cottage industry with traditional bat making companies like Hunts County in Huntingdon remaining true to their roots and continuing to turn out products using craftsmanship from over the centuries.
But player safety is one area that has developed considerably, particularly batting helmets, and with its product about to appear in the ashes series down under in a couple of weeks time, a small British company is hoping to make it big on the world stage.
Click below to watch a report from John Bevir
Monty Panesar has taken to Twitter to express his delight at signing for Essex.
The England bowler agreed a two-year contract with the club earlier this afternoon, following a successful loan spell last season.
Essex have completed the signing of England spin bowler Monty Panesar on a two-year deal.
Panesar, who's currently with the England squad in Australia ahead of the upcoming Ashes series, enjoyed a successful loan spell with the county last season.
During that time, the 31-year-old took 14 wickets in six LV= County Championship games.
Speaking to the club's official website, Panesar said that his previous positive experience with Essex had been pivotal in his decision:
"I loved playing for Essex last season. In the short time I was there, I was made to feel very welcome, both in the team and around the Club.
"I will always remember how the supporters and members gave me a heart-warming round of applause when I first came on to bowl for them at Colchester last August. It helped me to feel respected and loved as a cricketer after experiencing a challenging time in my life.
"I am determined to play my part in inspiring the team to be successful in all competitions. I want to help the club build towards the kind of success they enjoyed in its glory days under legendary captains Keith Fletcher and Graham Gooch."
Northamptonshire have signed Australian fast bowler Jackson Bird as their overseas player for next season.
The 26-year-old, who played in one Ashes test match this summer, will be eligible to play 10 LV= County Championship and seven t20 games for the county in 2014.
Bird will be the final arrival at the County Ground before the start of next season, with the club having also secured deals to sign Maurice Chambers and Graeme White since gaining promotion to Division One of the County Championship.