The critics would have us believe this is going to be another Aussie whitewash.
But England have advantages they can capitalise on.
There are some promising young players in Joe Root, Gary Balance, Jos Buttler and others – they need to show they can come good consistently.
The return of Warwickshire’s Jonathan Trott, seemingly over his withdrawal from the Ashes series in Australia through depression, is hugely important. Trott is a tough nut and an excellent batsman.
Warwickshire’s Ian Bell remains a great talent – it will be vital he knuckles down and scores runs. At his best a wonderful stroke-maker.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad, the key new-ball pair, probably have one last Ashes series in them and will want to go out on a high.
And the matches will be played in English conditions.
The Aussies can get intimidated by the English weather.
You know what they say … you get nine months of winter and three months of rain!
Australia will be on a high after wiping the floor with New Zealand in the World Cup Final.
Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner shared eight wickets. Mitchell Starc was named the 2015 Cricket World Cup player of the tournament.
Set a below-par total of 183, Australia rarely looked troubled, sealing a seven-wicket win in 33.1 overs, with captain Michael Clarke scoring 74 and Steve Smith 56 not out.
Such is the strength of Australia that there is no place in the Test squad for either Faulkner or Glenn Maxwell.
Instead the surprise parties are ‘old men’ Middlesex captain Adam Voges and Pakistan-born Fawad Ahmed.
Fawad, aged 33, is selected as the second spinner. Voges, aged 35, was voted the Sheffield Shield Player of the Year, having made 1,358 runs at an average of 104.46.
But there are weaknesses England can exploit.
The batting is not brilliant. Clarke is quality but injury prone,
And the pace bowlers may be less effective on English wickets.
Mitchell Johnson can spray it about; Mitchell Starc is exceedingly quick but his performances in the five-day game have been a little patchy so far.
England needs to put doubts in their minds early on.
It is going to be an incredible year with the Ashes from July 8 to August 24. Venues are the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff (July 8-12), Lord’s (July 16-20), Edgbaston (July 29 to August 2), Trent Bridge (August 6-10), and the KIA Oval (August 20-24).
And ahead of the Ashes New Zealand’s tour of England which begins on May 8.
Investec Test matches take place at Lord’s (May 21-25) and then Headingley (May 29 to June 2) before the focus shifts to the Royal London One-Day International series with Edgbaston (June 9), the Kia Oval (June 12), the Ageas Bowl in Southampton (June 14), Trent Bridge (June 17) and Emirates Durham ICG (June 20) all staging ODIs and Emirates Old Trafford hosting a NatWest T20I on June 23.
Eventmasters is thrilled to offer VIP corporate hospitality packages at Trent Bridge, the KIA Oval and Headingley.
England must improve fast.
But they have a chance to build confidence when they kick off a three-Test series against West Indies in Antigua on April 13.
The team will rise again – can they do it in time for the Ashes? A nation is desperate for something to cheer.