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Gilchrist and co. raring to go for Ashes

Aussie gloveman Adam Gilchrist expects to be peak when Australia hosts England in the Ashes.

india Updated: Aug 10, 2006 23:35 IST

Adam Gilchrist is recharged after three months off cricket and expects to be peaking when Australia hosts England in the Ashes series.

"We're just so keen to go," the Australian vice-captain said Thursday. "I think everyone across the board is desperate for it."

Any suggestion that England's Ashes defense would be weakened with the injury-enforced absence of skipper Michael Vaughan and lingering injury concerns over Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones were erased with the emphatic series win over Pakistan, Gilchrist said.

"There's been talk and fear of being an Ashes dud because of the injuries that England have had and their results since the Ashes," he said. "I think that's all going to go out the window. Come ball one of the Ashes series, I think they'll be ready to play."

The bulk of the Australian test squad has had time off since the tours of South Africa and Bangladesh finished in April. The squad will gather later this month to start preparing for the Champions Trophy tournament in India in October.

While the Champions Trophy is significant- because Australia has never won it- the Ashes series is the focal point for the Australians next season.

Opener Justin Langer, who missed most of the South Africa and Bangladesh tours after being struck on the head by a Makhaya Ntini bouncer early against the Proteas, said he'll be expecting plenty of short-pitch bowling from the English pacemen.

"I'd be absolutely surprised if I don't cop more bumpers in the next summer than I have for my whole career," he said. Curators from Australia's five Ashes venues met in Hobart on Thursday to discuss preparation of the pitches for the series. The Gabba pitch in Brisbane is expected to be as lively as usual for the series opener starting Nov. 23, while Perth's curator is hoping to renew the WACA wicket so that its legendary pace and bounce are restored.

Kevin Mitchell, the Gabba curator, said spectators could expect a pacy wicket.

"It's going to be a fair game," he said. "If everyone turns up fit it's going to be a really good contest."

Although, "I think it's probably a pretty happy hunting ground for the Aussie side," he added. "They haven't lost too many there over the years."

On the West coast, Cameron Sutherland said he wanted to revive the WACA wicket after some criticism last season. "We're in the process of trying to get back to the basics of what the WACA characteristics are but it's not a one-year turnaround," he said. "It's still going to be a pretty good wicket as far as pace and bounce but it's not going to be back to what it was 20 years ago."