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Ashes win can fire up our young cricketers'

PUBLISHED: 11:32 09 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:55 25 August 2010

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 27:  (L-R) Andrew Flintoff consoles team-mate Geriant Jones as they leave the pitch after shaking hands with the Australian players and thanking the travelling England fans following England's defeat on day five of the first Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at The Gabba on November 27, 2006 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 27: (L-R) Andrew Flintoff consoles team-mate Geriant Jones as they leave the pitch after shaking hands with the Australian players and thanking the travelling England fans following England's defeat on day five of the first Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at The Gabba on November 27, 2006 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

2006 Getty Images

ONE of the world s greatest sporting events got underway yesterday, and a former winner is convinced the nation is on the verge of another summer of glorious celebration. The Ashes series - between the English and Australian cricket teams - kicked off on

ONE of the world's greatest sporting events got underway yesterday, and a former winner is convinced the nation is on the verge of another summer of glorious celebration.

The Ashes series - between the English and Australian cricket teams - kicked off on Wednesday at the home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club in Cardiff.

Four years ago England's 2-1 victory over the Aussies captured the country's imagination, with joyous scenes across the UK and scores of youngsters opting to take up the game on the back of the historic success.

Australia duly won the Ashes back on home soil two years ago in a 5-0 series whitewash, but Kent wicket-keeper batsman Geraint Jones - who was part of both the heroic winning team of 2005 and the side that humbled Down Under - is backing England to bring the four-inch trophy back to the home of cricket and inspire new legions of fans.

He said: "Cricket really was the national sporting highlight during the summer of 2005.

"There were more and more people going out and getting involved in the game. That has since diminished but, hopefully, a successful team can cause a repeat.

"It would be great to see the general public have their interest in the game rekindled.

"Hopefully it will happen and we will start to see youngsters put away the football boots and get the bat and ball out of the cupboard."

England's 2005 triumph was the first time since Sir Ian Botham's heroics of 1989 that they have won the biannual fixture.

Although Jones acknowledges England's bitter southern hemisphere rivals will be favourites to win the series again this time around he is sure his former team-mates have the quality to cause another historic upset.

He said: "Some of Australia's great players like Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne are no longer about and their star has faded somewhat.

"England really do have a good chance to win back the Ashes and when both teams are on form they are now more evenly matched.

"Teams now look at Australia and think they can beat them, but at the same time they have some great talent in their ranks."

Jones remains one of the county's consistent performers and admits he not given up his desire to test himself against the world's best players.

However, at 32, it appears the sun has set on his international career and that his priorities now lie elsewhere.

He added: "As a professional, you want to play at the level where you will be tested the most. I don't however wake up every morning saying 'I must get back into the England team' - it is more a case of doing well for Kent and seeing what happens.

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