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Ashes: Andrew Strauss believes England must assert themselves on first Gabba morning

Ashes-winning former England captain Andrew Strauss talks about the excitement and banter surrounding the start of the first Test.

Andrew Strauss: Looking for Alastair Cook's side to get off to a good start at the Gabba

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Former Ashes-winning captain Andrew Strauss believes England must grab the series by the scruff of the neck on the first morning at the Gabba.

The eagerly-anticipated series gets underway at Brisbane on Thursday and Strauss believes the first morning is vital to both teams' prospects.

Strauss was skipper when England last played a Test at the Gabba in November 2010 when the visitors won the toss and elected to bat but posted just 260 in their first innings.

Australia then notched 481 to put the visitors under pressure but England rose to the challenge, hitting 517/1 in their second innings, with present captain Alastair Cook scoring an unbeaten 235 not out and Strauss a century as they went on to draw the Test and eventually win the series 3-1 to retain the Ashes.

He told Sky Sports News: "I just can't wait for it to get started. There is a huge amount of anticipation, a lot of expectation, the players will be feeling pretty nervous I would have thought tomorrow morning.

"A lot of it's going to be about how they control those emotions. The first day, the first hour or so is going to be really important.

"So they know that this evening, they'll be thinking hard about how they're going to deal with it.

"But actually then they have to go out and do it tomorrow morning. So, it's going to be a big first hour. Everyone's going to be very excited to see what happens."

Big runs

"England haven't been very good at starting Test series away from home. This is a big opportunity to put that jinx to bed and grab this series by the scruff of the neck."

Andrew Strauss

Strauss believes whichever team is batting first must target big runs in their first innings to put the opposition under pressure.

"On this wicket as well, first morning it's going to do a bit but after that it's going to be a belter to bat on so if you get 400 you're in control of the game," he said.

"If you get bowled out for 250 odd which I think we did last time, then the opposition's got a real opportunity to get ahead of you and put you under pressure.

"England haven't been very good at starting Test series away from home. This is a big opportunity to put that jinx to bed and grab this series by the scruff of the neck."

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