With only one test of this series, to be played in 2014, nine of these two tests of the series will have been done during the year, but England can expect a completely different challenge 'down under.' Old Trafford in Manchester was perhaps where England struggled more during the summer, and where he probably would have lost had it not been for the adverse weather conditions on the final day. This will be a concern for England, as the Old Trafford pitch is the replica closest to those in Australia - fast and bouncy.
England have tried to use the highest pace bowlers in order to counteract the difference in pitches. Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson will be starting these tests without a doubt, their records for the Three Lions speak for themselves, but Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and Stephen Finn are all over six feet tall, and all possess the real pass, which could cause problems on these pitches. Graeme Swann was the leading wicket-taker in the English summer series with 26 wickets in five games - is unlikely
A lot of build-up to the first test that surrounds the fitness of wicketkeeper Matt Prior. 32 years he has played the last 57 consecutive test match in England but suffered a torn calf muscle during a warm-up game against Australia XI, and could be forced to leave the first test as he struggles back to full -fitness. England are giving him all the time it needs, but if you miss out, Jonny Bairstow of Yorkshire will be the replacement. The only other place in the starting team of England seems to be up for grabs as the third seamer. Chris Tremlett looks favorite to take the place at the minute, with its excellent performance in the last Ashes series in Australia for his name. Boyd Rankin and Stephen Finn failed to convince the last warm-up fixture against Australia Invitational XI.
In the field of Australia, the two major changes occur in the form of the inclusion of rookie George Bailey, and one of the favorite villains of the pantomime Barmy Army, Mitchell Johnson. The pair forced their way back into the side through their shape a day, with 31 years Bailey smashing India for a shedload of runs in the recent Aussie tour of the subcontinent. Johnson too well in India, and despite his below-par performance the last time England visited Australia, he'll feel more confident after his recent internal form and will try to take advantage of the injury to fellow seamers Mitchell Starc , James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and Pat Cummins.
England are enjoying their most successful period since 1980 and in Australia are in a period of transition, although looking much firmer than they have in the previous two in this series. Can England make it four consectuve Ashes victories for the first time since the 19th century? Only time will tell, and it all starts with the five-day test in Brisbane to kick off proceedings. An exciting series on hold .......