Ashes-winning captain Mike Gatting has urged England to seize the early initiative in this summer's contest with Australia.
Gatting's charges won the opening Test Down Under in 1986/87 en route to a 2-1 victory over their Antipodean foes, and the former batsman told Cricket AM that he wants Alastair Cook's squad to make a similar start to the 2013 Ashes.
The ex-Middlesex man believes the hosts must strike quickly and steal a march on the tourists before new Australia coach Daren Lehmann has a chance to fully stamp his blueprint onto the Baggy Green playing staff.
And Gatting thinks a triumph in the first duel at Trent Bridge - which commences, live on Sky Sports Ashes HD, on Wednesday - will give England a fantastic chance of winning their third Ashes series on the spin.
"England have got a settled side, even though they will have to slot Kevin Pietersen back in after injury, so they will want the series to start as quickly as possible," said Gatting, who scored 10 centuries in 79 Tests for his country.
"Every day Australia drag themselves together, though, the more difficult it will be, so if England can win the first Test that could be really crucial and help us get on top and stay on top."
Legendary Australia seamer Jeff Thomson joined Gatting on the Cricket AM sofa and revealed his delight that erstwhile South Africa leader Mickey Arthur has been replaced by Lehmann as Australia's head coach.
The New South Wales-born star reckons Lehmann has already lifted the mood in the tourists' camp, but readily admits that his nation could struggle to compete with England if skipper and premier batsman, Michael Clarke, who has been troubled by a back ailment, fails to fire.
"I don't think Arthur should have been in the job as there are enough Australian coaches back home that could have done it," said Thomson. "Everyone else seems to take our blokes and we use somebody else's!
"The dressing room is in harmony now and Lehmann has already made a strong and not a wishy-washy decision by selecting Shane Watson and Chris Rogers as his opening batsmen.
"But Clarke's form is the most crucial thing for us because our batting is a bit suspect."
Thomson, who took 100 Ashes wickets in 21 matches, added: "I am nervous about this series but the sunshine is coming out now ahead of the first Test and I think our guys will do much better with a bit of warmth around.
"We are struggling and are the underdogs - people are saying England might win 3-1 or 4-1 - but that is good for us."
Mike Gatting is taking on the challenge to ride between each of the five Ashes Test grounds from 13-17 July. Along with some fellow cyclists, he's hoping to raise £200,000 for worthy causes including The Lord's Taverners, who are committed to enhancing the prospects of disadvantaged and disabled young people. To donate, head to www.lordstaverners.org.
ASHES ON SKY SPORTS
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