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Strauss upbeat as England embark on Ashes defence

England captain Andrew Strauss says he is very confident his team can retain the Ashes against Australia.
England captain Andrew Strauss says he is very confident his team can retain the Ashes against Australia.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • England captain Andrew Strauss is confident his side can retain the Ashes in Australia
  • England team jetted off to begin their three-month tour of Australia on Friday
  • Strauss says Australia will be as strong as last time England toured in 2006/7
  • First Ashes Test begins in Brisbane on November 25

(CNN) -- England cricket captain Andrew Strauss says he is "very confident" that his side can retain the Ashes as they embark on a three-month tour of Australia.

Strauss led England to victory in the summer of 2009 as they beat their old enemy 2-1 in a five-match Test series and regained the famous urn for the second time in four years.

Despite the fact that England haven't triumphed on Australian soil since the tour of 1986/87, Strauss is convinced his side have what it takes to win down under.

"I'm very confident," he told the England and Wales Cricket Board's official website before the squad flew to Perth. "I don't think I could be more confident than I am, but I'm also realistic enough to realize that it's not going to be a walk in the park.

"So you have to be prepared for some pretty strong challenges and I think we are prepared for that. Their record at home is outstanding. They are a very proud country and have a great cricketing tradition."

I'm very confident .. but I'm also realistic enough to realize that it's not going to be a walk in the park
--Andrew Strauss
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Australia's recent series defeat in India saw them slip to fifth in the world rankings, while England climbed to fourth on the back of their successful summer against Pakistan.

The last time England went to Australia as holders of the Ashes, in 2006/7, they were whitewashed 5-0 when the likes of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath were still playing.

And despite their patchy recent form Strauss believes Australia are still a formidable unit under the guidance of his opposite number Ricky Ponting, whose image was projected onto the Houses of Parliament in London this week as the Ashes build up began in earnest.

"We're fully expecting Australia to be as good as they ever have been and the challenge for us is to be better than that," Strauss added.

"They have lost a few recently and there are some question marks there that will hopefully be preoccupying them to a certain extent at the moment, but we're not expecting them to be off the pace at all.

"They obviously desperately want to win the Ashes back and they'll realize Brisbane is a good chance to get ahead of us and we've got to be prepared to play at our best from ball one."

The first Test gets underway in Brisbane on November 25th.