Ashes 2015: England do not fear Australia, says Ben Stokes

Australia just normal blokes - Stokes
The Ashes 2015
Dates: Five-match series starts on 8 July in Cardiff
Coverage: Don't miss a ball on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and the BBC Sport website

England all-rounder Ben Stokes believes Australia are "just normal blokes" and not the "invincible force" he says they have been made out to be.

The first Ashes Test gets under way on 8 July in Cardiff with England having lost the last series down under 5-0.

"They have got some quick bowlers but there is nothing to fear," said Stokes, 24. "They're as human as we are.

"Whatever we get chucked at us, we are going to chuck back, if not a bit more."

England drew 1-1 with New Zealand in the Test series earlier this summer before an winning a thrilling and run-laden one day series 3-2.

New national cricket director Andrew Strauss believes the series "helped the players re-engage with the public" after a dismal World Cup.

The former England captain added: "Our guys will be backed up all the way by the crowd and that often is a decisive factor in the Ashes."

'People like to get in a battle'

Both sides have debated the issue of on-field behaviour during the Ashes build-up.

England paceman James Anderson, 32, has said he hopes the series is played in the right spirit, but Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, 33, believes nothing will change.

However, Johnson has said the tourists might deliberately avoid any sledging with Stokes because it may help the England player raise his game.

During the 2013 Adelaide Ashes Test, Johnson clashed with Stokes, the pair bumping shoulders while running down the wicket, which led to a charge from the International Cricket Council.

Stokes was also involved in a running dialogue with Marlon Samuels against the West Indies in April.

Andrew Flintoff says England's Ben Stokes is better than he was

Then Stokes put on a match-winning display in the first Test against New Zealand in May - including the fastest ever century at Lord's - prompting former captain Andrew Flintoff to predict England greatness for the Durham all-rounder.

However, Stokes insists he is ready for whatever tactics Australia employ against him and will respond if there are any controversial verbal exchanges.

"In cricket, people like to get in a battle and there is more than one way of being in a battle than exchanging words with someone," he told BBC Sport.

"If people want to say something, then I am going to say something. If they don't, then I'm still going to try to make it feel like I am in a battle with the bowler.

"It is always about trying to win and just trying to make every single opportunity you can into a battle and make sure you don't lose."

Ashes Tests
First Test: Cardiff - 8-12 July
Second Test: Lord's - 16-20 July
Third Test: Edgbaston - 29 July-2 August
Fourth Test: Trent Bridge - 6-10 August
Fifth Test: The Oval - 20-24 August

'Winning means keeping emotions in check'

Strauss was part of an England side which won the Ashes both at home and in Australia.

He believes the issue of sledging in the Ashes is "overplayed" and is hoping tensions don't "boil over" in the series coming up.

"I've got a nine-year-old son and I don't want to see unpleasant scenes on a cricket pitch as a father and I don't think anyone in English cricket needs to see that," he said.

"Winning cricket matches is all about keeping your emotions in check and I hope our players are able to do that."

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