Hat-trick heroes in waiting

This summer the Ashes comes back to our shore, but can England victor for the third time in succession against an Australian side shrouded in chaos and controversy? Financial Adviser takes a look with a week to go to the biggest series in international cricket

Every summer, the country folk of Britain need a hero to rest their hopes upon. Last year, it was a side-burned devil on two wheels, injecting an ephemeral shot of Cool Britannia into our flagging nation. It was a perma-grinned roadrunner, who’s robotics whipped us into a frenzy. It was a determined heptathlete who broke records and ceilings with humility and grace. This is not their summer.

This is the summer for the fiercest of foes to clash. For reignited rivalries to run riot across the country. It’s a summer for gentlemen off the field to become animals upon it. This summer, the nation becomes bedecked in white. This summer, we have The Ashes.

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Is 2013 the year that England’s generation of promise turns golden? Or is the disaster-strewn Australia using discord as a ruse, to beguile their keenest of enemies and win back their sorely-missed bragging rights?

Over the next six weeks we’ll find out. Financial Adviser has once again teamed up with pensions titan MetLife to celebrate this summer’s battle for the Urn, and offer you the chance to win some once-in-a-lifetime prizes along the way.

And together we’ve smashed it over the boundaries, scoring an exclusive interview with Ashes hero Andrew Strauss, who’s as effusive about the forthcoming series as we are. “You can’t help but get excited by the fact that the Ashes is on our doorstep again,” says Straussy. “It’s completely different to any other series you play in, and it’s always very, very special to go on to win it.”

England reign supreme

It’s a rare but glorious feeling to know that England enter this series as the firm favourites. Their resounding victory in Australia in 2011 - which saw the English win at a canter - has not been just the peak of their ascent, but merely the foundation for a new era of superiority.

And while Mr Strauss, the maestro that orchestrated England’s impressive symphony of success, has no regrets about his retirement from the game, he’s convinced that this is England’s Ashes to lose. “The great thing about England is that there are no weaknesses. As long as they play cricket of a sufficient quality, Alastair Cook should be lifting that urn at the end of the Oval test.”

Indeed, Strauss enthusiastically believes the Cookie Monster has managed his transition from the celebrity of star batsmen to the pressure cooker of the captaincy impeccably. “For starters, he’s scored a bucket load of runs, which is a really important thing to do when you first take over the job, because everyone is looking to see if you can handle the conflicting interests of looking after your own game, the rest of the team and the strategy.”