Paul Collingwood says competing in an Ashes series is cricket's equivalent to representing one's country in the Olympic games, when considering the unique fervour created by contests against Australia.
The former England all-rounder was a triple Ashes winner over the course of his international career - having played a part in the triumphs of 2005, 2009 and 2010-11 - and says no other series can match the intensity as the battle for the urn.
"It brings that extra pressure, extra nervousness. The speculation and intensity is another level. For a lot of players it is a really nerve-racking time," Collingwood told The Independent.
"It was always that first day, singing the national anthem, all the build up to it. You are desperate to get into it, get out on the park and get the competitive juices flowing."
He added: "The Ashes are like the Olympics – that's what it means to everyone."
Collingwood ended his international career on the ultimate high as he took the decision to retire as England secured an historic triumph in Australia - the first Ashes victory down under a quarter of a century.
The 37-year-old, who played 68 Test matches for his country, is now concentrating his exertions on county cricket with his native Durham, but Collingwood admits there is no substitute for the buzz that comes with playing for England.
"I miss it, of course I do. When you come out of international cricket you find it hard to replicate the intensity and the adrenalin. It's an amazing environment to be involved in so you miss those times, the big crowds, playing the game," he explained.
"But I love watching England – they have moved on even in the couple of years since I stopped playing Test cricket. I think they are a highly skilful team now. I would love to be involved with England in some way in the future but at the moment it is just great to watch them."
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