Australia coach Mickey Arthur already planning for 2013 Ashes

Mickey Arthur was appointed Australia coach in November
Arthur spent five years in charge of his native South Africa

New Australia coach Mickey Arthur has revealed he is already planning for the 2013 Ashes in England.

The South African, who was appointed only last month, claims he fully understands the importance of the famous rivalry.

He told BBC Radio 4: "We prioritise series and a couple are non-negotiable.

"South Africa next year is going to be a massive series but that's going to be a stepping stone towards the series with England."

Australia were comprehensively beaten 3-1 on home soil by England last winter and have slipped to fourth in the International Cricket Council Test rankings.

New Zealand's Test win at Hobart earlier this month was their first in Australia for 26 years, and Arthur admits his side are in "transition".

He added: "In other series we will look to be a little bit more conservative and try and blood some younger guys to increase the talent pool, but we certainly won't be doing that in the Ashes."

Former captain Ricky Ponting has not scored a Test century in almost two years and, although he was named in the squad for the Boxing Day Test against India, there is growing speculation that his international career is coming to an end.

While Arthur praised the 37-year-old's commitment, he warned: "Nobody has a God-given right to be in the side.

"Since I have come in his attitude, his work ethic, everything has been superb.

"He's probably still the fittest in the squad, he's certainly the best fielder and he gives everything he's got, but everybody will be judged on runs and wickets and everybody in the Australian squad has to keep performing."