London: England skipper Andrew Strauss has set his sights on a victorious Ashes series in Australia, telling his squad that a triumph Down Under would be a career highlight.
England have not beaten Australia in an away Ashes series since Mike Gatting masterminded a victorious campaign in 1986-1987.
But with England leapfrogging Australia in the latest International Cricket Council world rankings, Strauss believes his side have the ability to end the two-decade losing streak.
"We`ve really been targeting this series because an Ashes win in Australia can be a defining moment in your career," Strauss told a news channel yesterday.
"You never know how it`s going to play out there, how difficult or easy it might be, but what you`ve got to do is be as prepared as possible, be prepared for anything.”
"When you`re there there`s a lot of off-field things to do deal with, being away from home for a long time, but if you deal with that well, it gives you a good chance of playing well on the field."
Strauss said England would head into the Ashes full of confidence after a successful summer which featured series over Bangladesh and Pakistan.
"We`re in a good place as a side," Strauss said. "We`ve made a lot of improvement over the last 18 months or so.”
"We`re aware it`s a tough assignment going to Australia and winning, very tough, but we`re in a good place to do it. We`re quietly confident we can do it without being over-the-top arrogant.”
"We need to play well out there, we need to be consistent and in the really crucial sessions we need to make sure we play well.”
"But we`re really excited and just ticking down the hours now."
While Australia had just suffered a 2-0 loss to India, Strauss believes that series result will be irrelevant when the Ashes gets under way.
"The conditions in India are so different," he said.
"They`ve obviously lost a few Tests and have a few questions they need to iron out and that might preoccupy them where we don`t have that.”
"But we know from past experience that as soon as you arrive in Australia, from day one things get pretty tough.”
"They`re a proud side, their record in Australia is outstanding and we`re expecting them to be at their best this winter so if we want to beat them we have to be better than that."