Playing for England in the Ashes – and especially in Australia, where the action begins this week – is what I dreamt about when I was growing up.
I remember watching the likes of Merv Hughes and Glenn McGrath, and learning about the history of the series and the whole culture of playing Down Under, the different pitches, the different ball.
I went on a couple of tours there as an academy player and got to know how much cricket means to people in Australia.
Injuries interrupted my career a fair bit so when I did get selected for the 2010-11 Ashes series I thought it might end up being my only one.
It was the tour I always wanted to play my best in. If you can perform in Australia, you can play Test cricket just about anywhere.
We did win 3-1 and it was a special series for me. I’ve got a lot of good memories of playing in Australia, not just for England but also on those academy tours.
The pitches suited my style and I always enjoyed playing there.
Nowadays I’m not involved in cricket so I don’t think about it as often but if there’s one time of my career that I remember it’s 2010-11.
Perhaps because England haven’t won there since, that series does still get hyped up a lot when the Ashes rolls around again, as it does in Brisbane on Tuesday night.
Around this time of year I get a lot of mentions on my social media with clips from that time. One of me dismissing Mitchell Johnson first ball in the fifth Test is always popular.
Honestly, it’s great to see those moments again, or when I get the Barmy Army tweeting me about it.
It’s fantastic to have made those memories and the chance to do the same will be on the minds of the England squad as they prepare for the first Ashes Test.
Australia is both the most exciting overseas place to play Test cricket and the toughest. But if you can turn your nerves into excitement, and you usually can, then it’s the pinnacle of any England player’s career.
Obviously circumstances this year are completely different to usual because of Covid-19.
For those who have been on an Ashes tour before, the build-up may not have been as memorable as in the past.
It’s hard to say exactly what it will be like for players as I never had to play cricket while living in bubble conditions.
But having chatted to a few players I think they do get a bit fed up when they are not allowed out of their hotels much.
It must be frustrating, especially when you have been on tours in the past where you’ve been able to socialise and embrace the culture.
I imagine they feel quite trapped, and preparing for a Test series like that must be very different to my own experiences.
While I know what it’s like to win in Australia, I was also in the team that lost 5-0 in 2013-14 and that tour really dragged on. If we had been in a bubble too it would have felt even longer.
But on the eve of the first Test England will be looking forward to it. The travelling fans may not be there this time but there will be plenty watching back home.
These players have a chance to win an Ashes and realise some childhood dreams of their own.