Apart from the Ashes, the India series is the most keenly anticipated one in recent years. As always, there is huge anticipation, but this time both sides are playing for a massively important spot.
India are the No. 1 Test side and have a good team. We have been doing well as well. There is one difference — when England play Australia, they have an extra edge. The English hate the Aussies and vice-versa. But we don't hate the Indians, we are friends with them.
There are lots of numbers and stats floating around the first Test. Frankly speaking, we are not focusing on that. We have a plan and believe we can beat India.
Up to the task
History is against us. England have not beaten India in a Test series home or away since 1996. But come Thursday morning, it will be a fresh start for us. India beat us the last time they were here, but if we play the way we played in the Ashes, we can continue the winning run.
The big difference from 2007 and now is that our players know their roles. We have six batsmen who are scoring thousands of runs. Jimmy Anderson, Graeme Swann, Chris Tremlett form a top attack. Tim Bresnan came in for Stuart Broad in Australia and did well. We have a wicketkeeper at six who scores hundreds.
Of the bowlers, there has been some talk about Broady. But I must say he is a fantastic performer. I don't select the final XI, but whoever England choose, will make for a great combination. We are lucky to have both Bresnan and Broady to back up Jimmy, Swanny and Tremlett.
What will make the contest even more interesting is the 22 yards. It’s a good batting wicket and it’s usually hard to take 20 wickets at Lord’s. The weather is also likely to be inclement, but our players will enjoy the cold, overcast conditions, because they are used to it.
Whenever you play a big series, there is talk and a build-up. Before the last Ashes, I had said I was not going to get involved in any of this. When the clock strikes 11am on Thursday, everything spoken before that will count for nothing.
Friends, not foes
My friend, Yuvraj Singh, and I had some interesting duels in India in 2008. This time, unless he bowls to me in the nets, I don't see him getting me out in the Test series.
I have other friends in the India team. I met Rahul Dravid at Lord's, and we had a long chat on properties in London and a lot more of bits and pieces. Rahul and I will have dinner before the second Test at Nottingham.
I also met Anil Kumble, who was here for the MCC meeting. Cricket can forge strong relationships, and the IPL has played a huge part in strengthening these relationships.