Australia planning for return Ashes
Captain Michael Clarke has admitted that Australia have begun planning for the return Ashes series Down Under.
Australia relinquished the chance to regain the Ashes following the rain-affected draw in Manchester earlier this week, but will get a second chance in the winter when hostilities resume on home soil.
While Clarke has warned that his players cannot let their minds wander that far ahead - levelling this series 2-2 remains the priority - he admitted that behind the scenes work had started on winning back cricket's oldest trophy.
"I'm pretty sure there are people within the high-performance team that have thought about that," Clarke said. "I'm sure the selectors have and (coach) Darren (Lehmann) is thinking about that, but as a player I don't think you can afford to.
"You need to be focused about what is in front of you. As soon as you take one eye off the ball you'll find a way not to be a part of that series.
"It is very smart that the high-performance team and the head coach are certainly looking to the Australian summer."
For the time being Clarke is focused only on the task of leaving these shores with a series draw, starting with the fourth Investec Test at Chester-le-Street which begins on Friday.
The 32-year-old is confident that is a reasonable target after his side were denied the chance to push for victory in Manchester by rain on the final day.
"That's our priority to try and level the series. That's our priority," he said. "I think any time you can have success against a team you can build momentum for what lies ahead.
"All the boys took a lot of confidence out of the last Test match. We all believe, and you never know in this game, but we believed that if the rain didn't take part throughout the whole Test match we would have won that Test.
"We're pretty clear on our views that we want to leave here with a 2-2 draw - if the rain stays away."
Australia could name an unchanged line-up for the first time in the series, with only Jackson Bird brought in to the squad as a possible replacement.
The tourists will make a late assessment on the fitness of their quicks, following just a four-day turnaround from Manchester.
Ryan Harris has frequently struggled to back up from Tests, although Clarke revealed he would prefer the right-armer plays.
"He's always important to the Australian team," Clarke said.
"I've said all my career every opportunity I've had to play with Ryan has been a great one. He's a wonderful bowler and a great asset to our team.
"I think for everyone's sake I think it would be nice if Ryan was available for selection and he can continue his form."