With just 42 days to go for the Ashes 2013-14, the concern of the English team is increasing as well. England will leave the British shores on October 25 for their tour Down Under, and the reason of leaving this early being the warm-up fixtures against the Aussie state sides.

But, the clash of the Australian domestic season with these warm-up games has come up as a rather depressing factor for the England captain. There are three such games that have been trussed along with the warm-ups.

Maybe you can call it a strategy, maybe you can call it a co-incidence but whatever it is, it'll harm the redoubtable England team to a large extent. Everyone knows how beneficial these very fixtures proved for England when they toured Australia last time.

But, this time around, they will play those practice matches but against weaker sides. With the domestic Australian boards unlikely to give their best players for these fixtures, England would have to face grade cricketers, which is far from ideal preparation

Except for Ian Bell and Graeme Swann, no England player really imposed themselves on the last Ashes series, and they will in need of serious practice before the return series.

This lack of form highlights how much England need to be facing strong opposition in their warm-ups. Presence of good players will give them some high quality competition and thus the much lacking form.

England of course don't want to be going into the Ashes series without their best form as the Aussies are still mighty in their backyard, the biggest example of which was their swashbuckling show against the Proteas.

Lack of form, no good players in the warm-up games, pressure of the tour Down Under, Alastair Cook at the moment has to tackle with it all. The real test begins now....

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