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Strauss: We must hit the ground running

ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss has stressed the importance of getting off to a winning start as his team prepare to do battle with Australia in this morning&rsquo;s Ashes opener.<br /><br />Strauss&rsquo;s men have won just one of their last 15 opening Tests, but he knows his men must hit the ground running in Cardiff this weekend to set the tone for the rest of the series.<br /><br />Australia claimed victory in the opening Test in 2005, only for England to hit back and clinch the now famous series 2-1. But Strauss (right) is refusing to leave anything to chance this time around and has urged his men to stay focused from the very first delivery. &ldquo;You definitely want early momentum in a series like this because once you go behind it&rsquo;s hard to pull it back.,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I guess both teams are looking to gain some early confidence and you can only do that by playing some good cricket.&rdquo; He added: &ldquo;An Ashes series is different to everything else. With the tradition, history and great battles of the past, this is what everyone wants to be involved in. It&rsquo;s like the football World Cup for us. It means a lot to the England players and we are treating it in that way.&rdquo;<br /><br />Both sides will wait until the very last minute to unveil their starting line-ups, although England need only pick 11 from 12 after releasing batsman Ian Bell to play for Warwickshire.<br /><br />The soft nature of the pitch may force Strauss to adopt a two-pronged spin attack with Monty Panesar pairing up with Graeme Swann, although paceman Graham Onions is also pushing for a recall.<br /><br />&ldquo;Two spinners gives you more balance,&rdquo; Strauss added. &ldquo;They can attack both left and right-handers differently and that will be an option for us.&rdquo;<br /><br />His Aussie counterpart Ricky Ponting (left) has also been forced to delay naming his side until the 11th hour after losing premier strike bowler Brett Lee with a rib injury. &ldquo;Only finding out then about Brett&rsquo;s injury and the chance of him being out for a couple of games means we haven&rsquo;t finalised it yet,&rdquo; Ponting admitted. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s no doubt there&rsquo;s a lot of hunger around the group, there&rsquo;s a lot of desire to build on.&rdquo;