After the jubilation of Cricket World Cup glory a number of weeks ago, a host of England’s winning team turn their attention to the distinguished Ashes urn.
Having not lost a home Ashes series since 2001, and the series seeing a 64.7% win percentage for home sides, England’s cricketers will have a certain level of confidence around the dressing room.
Former England bowler Steve Harmison sees England’s home advantage as the key, but doesn’t see either side running away with the urn.
“England are slight favourites with the home advantage, but I see it a lot closer than people think.”
A number of other legends have also predicted a World Cup-Ashes double for England this summer; one of the most notable being Alastair Cook’s support of his former side.
“It will be a tactic for England to play on pitches that produce results, because that is where they have had most success and Australia’s batsmen do not like the moving ball.
“I can see there being five results and I think England will sneak the biggest moments, not least because of the runs their lower order can contribute. They will take it 3-2.”
Having represented England 161 times, and captained the side to 2015 Ashes glory, Cook is well placed to comment on what it takes to win a home-Ashes series.
However, another of England’s former captains doesn’t hold the same confidence as the Essex opener. Michael Vaughan couldn’t split the sides, backing Steve Smith or Joe Root’s runs to decide the series.
“I can’t see there being any draws in the five Tests, especially with the pitches we’re expecting and the use of the 2018 Dukes ball. I’m going 3-2 either way.
“At this stage, I’ve no idea which way it will go. It could be as simple as whoever gets most runs between England’s Joe Root and Australia’s Steve Smith will deliver their team the Ashes.”
Although predicting the same score, former fast-bowler Matthew Hoggard was brave enough to choose which way the score will swing.
“I’m going England, 3-2. I think there will be a result in every game. It’s about whose going to score more runs. Both teams are evenly matched.
“The bowlers are going to dominate and it’s about who scores more runs. I’m backing us to score one more than Australia!”
As you’d expect, some of Australia’s biggest cricketing names supported their side’s away chances.
Regarded as two of the greatest bowlers of all time, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath weren’t afraid of the 17% win percentage for away teams in the Ashes.
Leg-Spinner Warne predicts a change of conditions from usual Ashes series in England, which may edge the urn Australia’s way.
“Normally, remember, the Ashes start in June. They’ve played on the grounds and they’re going to be drier.
“It’s still been a pretty good summer over there, so I don’t think they’ll seam around as much as we probably expect in the English conditions. It might help Australia.”
Although more hesitant of his country’s chances, McGrath still believes they can get the job done.
“The Ashes has been dominated by the home teams for the best part of two decades and, even though Australia have a good chance of ending that this time, the two sides are very evenly matched.
“I find it hard to say the team that I back will lose, or even draw, a match and so I do think Australia will win the series, but I’m not sure on the scoreline.”
England assistant coach Paul Farbrace backed his side for glory, suggesting a return to form for Moeen Ali will be the difference.
“It will come down to which team bats the best. England’s middle order is so strong, and I expect them to get the majority of the hosts’ runs.
“I expect Jimmy Anderson to have a fantastic impact and I think Moeen Ali will be key with both bat and ball. I expect England to win 3-2 to round off a memorable summer.”
In five Test’s time we will find out which legends were able to correctly predict the series, in what is bound to produce more exciting cricket this summer.
The first Test of the 2019 Ashes series gets underway today, at Edgbaston.