Cricket

Shane Warne makes his prediction for this year's Ashes series

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Any die-hard cricket fan will tell you, The Ashes are one of the biggest events on the sport's calendar.

Embroiled in history, competitiveness, and fierce rivalry, the series has become one of the major examinations of England's true quality.

This year's series, scheduled to commence on November 23, will see the tournament return to Australian soil, with both nations hoping to gain a decisive 33rd victory and break the 32-32 all-time tie that occurred after England won the series 3-2 on home soil two years ago.

There has been much talk of England's favourable credentials in the lead up to the 2017-18 series, with the side now placed third in the ICC's Test rankings, two places above opponents Australia, and having recently overcome the West Indies and South Africa in Tests.

And, former Australian spinner Shane Warne certainly recognises England's quality, arguing that both teams are "pretty evenly matched", suggesting that there would be a "close contest" when the series got underway.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the 47-year-old identified the vulnerability of both side's batting game. 

"I think it’s going to be very exciting, they’re pretty evenly matched," Warne told Sky Sports.

"I think both sides’ batting is a bit brittle and they rely on a few guys – Root and Cook with England and Warner and Smith with Australia.

"It just comes down to fitness with the bowlers. If Starc, Cummings, Pattinson, Hazlewood stay fit, along with Anderson and Broad, I think it’s going to be a really close contest.

"I don’t think it will be a whitewash either way – I think it will come down to who stays fit and who catches better."

Warne's insight over batting issues comes after former England captain Nasser Hussain raised concerns after England's deciding test against the West Indies at Lord's.

"England need to bat better, it's as simple as that.

"You can get 190 in your first innings against the West Indies and win the Test, you can get 190 in any game against Australia and you will lose that match."

The former Essex batsman described 400 runs as "almost bare minimum in Australia", warning the English team that a quality first-innings performance was required to be in with a chance of victory.

With both sides struggling with batting inconsitencies, Warne has suggested that it may be physical fitness, rather than raw quality, that wins the series for a particular side.

"It comes down to fitness with bowlers.

"If Starc, Cummings, Pattinson, Hazelwood stay fit, along with Anderson and Broad, I think it's going to be a really close contest.

"I don't think it will be a whitewash either way - I think it will come down to who stays fit and who catches better."

Cricket fans around the world can only hope that Warne's predictions materialise into reality and that this year's series will be one of the closest yet.

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Topics:
Cricket
The Ashes
ODI
Kevin Pietersen
T20
Joe Root
ODI World Cup
Australia cricket
England cricket

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