Nasser Hussain today spoke of the colossal importance of England's forthcoming tour of Australia, while giving an assurance that he is completely focused on the massive challenge that lies ahead.

Hussain flies out to Australia tomorrow - a week ahead of the rest of the England party - with his wife Karen and 16-month-old son Jacob. Their second child is scheduled to be born on November 20, between the first and second Test matches in Australia.

"It's going to be a huge tour for me personally," said the England captain. "I'm going to be fully focused. The present regime is helping as much as it can.

"We have a coach and captain who understand there is no reason why you shouldn't play your best cricket just because you have your family around. In many ways it is the other way round.

"But in many ways it will always be a problem. Wives and families do have other jobs and commitments and sometimes players will have to consider the two - a great career as an international cricketer and their family lives.

"Everyone's situation is different and sometimes you have to choose between how many pound signs you want against what you want to do personally."

Hussain also warned that Graham Thorpe, who pulled out of the original Ashes squad for family reasons, might need to score a hatful of runs to win his England place back. He also backed Thorpe's replacement, Kent's Robert Key, to win his spurs Down Under.

"Graham will be missed - I'm not hiding from that - but the lad replacing him is a fine player," said Hussain. "All four selectors wanted Robert Key on the plane to Australia. He played in the summer - it isn't a selection committee that looks backwards.

"Other players have come in - the Flintoffs, Trescothicks and Vaughans - and taken their opportunities. There is no point playing Robert in two Tests and then going back. You have to move forward. If he was good enough to be in our team this summer then he's good enough now."

However Hussain indicated that the door might not be closed on Thorpe forever. "I would hope at some stage he will be back playing for England. He has always been the sort of player who can turn on a switch and get runs as long as he is mentally right.

"England cannot just dismiss one of their best players of the last 10 years but Graham will have to prove to the selectors that he can get runs in international cricket," he added.

Hussain, who was launching the England party's new range of off-field clothing, also responded to comments made by Darren Gough, who expects to miss the first two Tests as he continues to recover from knee surgery.

"We knew Darren wouldn't be getting off the plane straight into 100% cricket because he needs rehab. Obviously it's disappointing to hear what he said about the first two Tests but maybe he's being a bit pessimistic because of all the injuries he's had. I'd rather wait and see how he goes out there."

Hussain himself insists there is cause for optimism. "If key areas and key battles are won - and the first Test is a very important area - there's no reason why not and I hope everyone in my squad will feel like that.

"For us to beat Australia a few things have to go right off the field but there is no reason why that shouldn't change."