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Home » Sport » Cricket

Australia have plenty of aggression but will not overstep mark

Friendly nature of series against New Zealand likely to dissipate as Australia arrive in England determined to win the Ashes

As New Zealand prepare to exit the stage, Australia arrive to shift the mood by pushing aggression and sledging to the limit.

New Zealand's refreshing attacking cricket combined with respect and humility has won them many fans this summer but after tomorrow's Twenty20 at Old Trafford they leave the way clear for the Ashes series which begins in Cardiff on July 8. 

Australia held their first net session on Sunday in north London and Michael Clarke, the captain, will copy New Zealand's bold approach but there will be none of the nice guy stuff thrown in.

Clarke did not watch the one-day series between England and New Zealand and so missed Eoin Morgan being congratulated by several opponents as he reached a terrific hundred at Trent Bridge on Tuesday night and the general goodwill between both teams that existed throughout the two Tests and five one-day internationals. 

The last two Ashes series have been bad tempered with problems on and off the field. David Warner landed himself in trouble two years ago when he aimed a punch at Joe Root in a Birmingham bar and Clarke threatened to break James Anderson's arm at the Gabba in November 2013.

Sledging is a way of life in Australian cricket and England are no angels either with Anderson in trouble last summer for a spat with Ravindra Jadeja at Trent Bridge. 

The pressure of an Ashes series pushes players to the maximum and the aggressive, attacking style of cricket both sides are expected to play will inevitably lead to flare ups.

"I am confident it will be played in the right spirit. On the field both teams will play hard and I know I probably say this every series but we will respect there is a line you cannot cross," said Clarke, captaining his second Ashes tour to England.

"Both teams might headbutt that line but I am confident we will not overstep the mark. It'show we play our best and it's a big part of the Australian way but you also need to keep in mind that there is a line you can't cross.

"As a captain of the team I will make sure I am leading the way on that front and I am confident the boys will certainly follow."

There is much at stake for Clarke on what is likely to be his last Ashes tour. At 34 and with a long history of back problems this could be his last series of any kind.

Clarke, along with Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Chris Rogers, see this as their final chance to win an Ashes series in England.

Australia have not won in England since Steve Waugh led them to a 4-1 victory in 2001, three years before Clarke made his Test debut, losing 2-1 in 2005 and 2009, and 3-0 here in 2013.

But after whitewashing England 5-0 18 months ago and subsequently winning in South Africa, the World Cup and 2-0 in the West Indies earlier this month they start this Ashes series as overwhelming favourites.

"That is our greatest challenge as a team to be honest. I haven't won in England in my career in Test matches and this team hasn't had that success," he said. 

"I have seen a lot of hunger, certainly among the senior players who have not had the chance to win over here. That's what's been driving us over the last couple of years to get out of bed - to become better as an individual player and also as a team.

"What I have been most proud of in terms of this team over the past couple of years has been the attitude. No matter who we have played against, hot day, cold day, our attitude to trying to become better as a team has been exceptional.

"We've been lucky enough to see some of that in our results, especially in the World Cup, in the West Indies, results in the Australian summer, beating England in Australia, so this would certainly be the icing on the cake. It doesn't come easy. We know how hard it's going to be and we're really focused on the First Test - that's all we're focused on.

"We've played some really good cricket together, especially in Australia, and I've spoken a lot about us trying to be more consistent away from home. If we play our best then we give ourselves the best chance.

"I've played for long enough and am realistic enough to know that playing here is a really tough challenge. Look at our record over the last 10-15 years, it is certainly not what we'd like as an Australian team and there is good reason for that. 

"England are very tough to beat at home. We've been playing well over the last couple of years but this is going to be a real challenge for us."

Australia's first of two four-day warm-up matches is against Kent at Canterbury starting on Thursday when Ryan Harris, his team's man of the series here in 2013, set to continue his comeback from a long lay off.

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