Steve Harmison expects to be given a physical battering by Australia's pacemen after being identified by Glenn McGrath as the key to England's hopes of regaining the Ashes.
But Harmison is ready, willing and able to hand out similar treatment after revealing he has a "nasty streak" from which even his close friend Andrew Flintoff has not been spared.
Harmison struck Flintoff on the shoulder with a bouncer when the pair met in a clash between Lancashire and Durham at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
England have already shown their aggressive intent this summer against the Australians.
Flintoff landed Brett Lee a blow on the shoulder with a delivery in the Twenty20 international at the Rose Bowl which kept him out of two NatWest Series games.
Then Matthew Hayden was hit by a throw from paceman Simon Jones when fielding the ball off his own bowling in a 50 overs meeting at Edgbaston.
Harmison said: "People ask if I am nasty enough to be a genuine fast bowler but I've always felt it is a job you do and that's it.
"Freddie (Flintoff) is probably my best mate in the game and, with the second ball against Lancashire at Old Trafford this year, I hit him on the shoulder.
"I don't think he saw it coming. But I had a job to do and it's the way it is.
"I feel I've got a nasty streak in me but it's when I'm in my cricket gear and have got the ball in my hand.
"I don't believe you frighten batsman. You work them to your advantage. I don't go out intentionally to hurt anyone or frighten anyone."
Harmison knows the need to use the short delivery sparingly and intelligently and is mindful of Australia's readiness to attack in such circumstances.
He said: "Whether it is a major weapon depends on the wicket you are playing on and the situation the game is in. Australia are very good players of the short ball.
"They've grown up on bouncy pitches in Australia. Adam Gilchrist, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden all play the short ball.
"I imagine the tail-enders will cop a few short balls and I've no doubt my arm guard, chest guard and everything else will be on my body when I go out to bat because I can't see them pitching the ball up to me.
"That's the way the game is at the moment and the tailenders are going to cop a few. I'll just try and get out of the way."
Harmison is quick to play down suggestions from McGrath that his role will be decisive in England's efforts to win the Ashes for the first time since 1986-87 under Mike Gatting.
He said: "I think everyone holds a key. If I bowl exceptionally well and the other three don't, then we are not going to win the Ashes series. We've got to bowl well as a unit.
"It's not all about me. No one man is going to win this Ashes series. It's going to be a collective effort and having as many players perform on a given day, and outperforming them, is the key."
Harmison believes that the team ethic in the side has moulded England into a formidable force.
He said: "I'm not going to knock ex-cricketers who have played for England but I think there was a lot of selfishness, worrying about themselves rather than the team. The one thing that this team has done is help each other out. When Michael Vaughan struggled for a couple of games, Marcus Trescothick got runs and vice versa."