November 21’2013, a date that can be termed as one of the most eagerly anticipated dates of the year for cricket fans.

Everyone is waiting for the oldest rivals of the gentlemen’s game to take guard at The Gabba.

While the English fans would be hoping to see Cook’s men retaining The Ashes for the fourth straight time, Aussie fans would be hoping that Kangaroos’ good show in the sub-continent would give them confidence to win The Ashes back after a long span of six years.

Leaving aside what one hopes and what not, it would be far better to take a look at the two teams’ strengths and weaknesses and thereafter we'll know who has that upper hand in the first test match in the Ashes 2013-14.

Let us see the hosts first then.

What the men from Down Under have is a really good line-up considering the fact that this time around, they are at home.

Whom Australia would probably open with is not clear until now. Rogers for sure would be there but who would be there alongside him is a doubt.

Warner and Hughes are the main contenders for the opening slot, which ensure that the Aussies’ opening partnership would lack experience which is of course their weak point.

Strength of the men in yellow actually lies in their middle and lower order. Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Bailey, Smith and Brad Haddin are the probables for the second, third, fourth and fifth slot. Clearly a solid and in form batting order that they have got in and it will be difficult to get them out cheaply.

In the bowling department, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Harris are for sure to be the ones in the playing startin XI given that Gabba pitch is a ‘friend’ of fast bowlers.

One thing is very clear then, Australia are in red hot form at the moment and their confidence is on an all time high.

Except for their opening partnership, they don’t seem to have any weakness and are all prepared to go for the kill.

On the other hand, the Brits too have begun their campaign on a positive note after drawing a game with Western Australia in which Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott got centuries and Michael Carberry got a gleaming half century.

In the game against Australia XI at Bellerive Oval in Hobart, something even better has happened as Alistair Cook in his very first game Down Under got 154* and Carberry has got 153*.

Certainly, Cook and Carberry would be the English openers then. Both are experienced, quite mature as well and have already got runs, making sure that England would have a solid opening partnership.

The middle order of course has again and again shown consistency and every batsman from the English middle order has scored heavily.

Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Bell have been the cause of many a headache for recent captains but even if Australia get them out cheaply, then Joe Root, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad or Graeme Swann will get runs and the stats show it as well.

England have a really deep batting order just like the Aussies though England’s lower order is far more dependable.

English bowling really doesn’t need any introduction.

The names and the stats tell it all. Broad, Swann, James Anderson and Chris Tremlett are world class bowlers and have been in form too.

Head to head contest then between Australia and England?

Whereas the Aussies’ only weakness lies in their opening partnership, England’s major concern is the lack of in form of almost every batsman in the past few months.

Neither of the two has a weak bowling line-up and no one of the two is lacking in confidence. 

Probable squads: Australia: Rogers, Warner, Watson, Clarke, Bailey, Smith Haddin, Johnson, Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Harris.

England: Cook, Carberry, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Root, Prior, Broad, Swann, Tremlett, Anderson.

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