Australia vs England, Ashes predictions: After Glenn McGrath's customary 5-0 verdict, our experts give theirs

·6-min read
Australia vs England, Ashes predictions: After Glenn McGrath's customary 5-0 verdict, our experts give theirs
Australia vs England, Ashes predictions: After Glenn McGrath's customary 5-0 verdict, our experts give theirs

The first Ashes Test gets under way on Tuesday night as Joe Root and his England side launch their attempt to secure one of the rarest achievements in the game in the form of a series win on Australian soil.

England hold a chastening recent record Down Under, having lost heavily on both trips since their last success in 2010/11. The fact that they have not even won a Test in Australia since that series win shows how hard it will be for the tourists to triumph this winter - and that's before the pandemic-enforced hurdles are considered.

With quarantines served by players upon arrival and a lack of preparation time due to bad weather severely impacting preparations, victory over the course of the next six weeks may well go down as one of great achievements in English cricket history.

Our team of writers and columnists will bring you all the news and analysis from every over, and here's how they expect the series to play out.

Michael Vaughan

I think their bowling attack will be more powerful than England’s with the Kookaburra ball. England's best chance is the first two Tests. If they don’t win one of those, I fear it could be 4-0 or 5-0.

Prediction: 3-1 Australia

Nick Hoult, Chief Cricket Correspondent, in Sydney

The Ashes will be decided in Brisbane and Adelaide. If England can stay in the race after two Tests, then they can go on and win because Melbourne and Sydney play more to their strengths and the final Test will be a pink-ball game; therefore unpredictable. If rain hampers the first Test, England have a chance, otherwise expect their undercooked batsmen to be blown away by Australian bowlers who grow a few inches taller at the Gabba. Anderson could inspire a fightback under the lights in Adelaide but England’s batting does not match up to Australia’s bowling - over five Tests that will be telling.

Prediction: 3-2 Australia

Oliver Brown, Chief Sports Writer, in Sydney

Popular wisdom dictates that England are hurtling into "the Gabbatoir", given their record of winning only two Tests in Brisbane since the end of the Second World War. But the green tinge to a pitch soaked by weeks of Queensland rain kindles hope that England's seamers, accustomed to such conditions at home, can buck the trend.

We will know within a fortnight how this series will play out. Lose either of the first two Tests badly and England will be staring at whitewash territory. But if the ball starts swinging under the lights during the day-night Test in Adelaide, a James Anderson-propelled attack could wreak havoc. India found themselves bowled out there last December for 36.

Reasons for English optimism are multiplying fast. Perth, so often the graveyard for touring sides' ambitions, has been struck from the roster due to Western Australia's Covid restrictions. Now Hobart, with its temperate Tasmanian climate far more suited to English tastes, is favourite to step in as host for the final Test.

Prediction: 3-2 England

Scyld Berry, Chief Cricket Writer

It does not look like being a high-scoring series, as the latest brand of Kookaburra moves around a bit more, and none of the players - apart from that Aussie contingent - has had any first-class - i.e red-ball - cricket in recent months, and the pace attacks of both countries are strong. England could also nick a second victory, but a comfortable Australian victory looms.

Prediction: 3-1 Australia

Isabelle Westbury, in Sydney

It’s absurd to think that two months' worth of cricket might be decided in the first ten minutes but the opening day at Brisbane has a habit of setting the tone for an Ashes series. In 21 Ashes Tests played at the Gabba, the team batting by the close of play on day one have only lost two of those matches. England, therefore, know that with bat in hand, it’s survival. India did it earlier this year, so England will believe they can, too.

That said, there’s no denying that Australia are favourites. Ben Stokes may be back, Australia may be without any Test cricket since that Indian loss in January, and the Australian captain may have departed under a cloud just days before the first ball, but this is an experienced Australian side confident of capitalising on home advantage. And England had a torrid Test season at home, too, lest we forget. It’s the Ashes, anything can happen, and the persistent rain that has wiped out any warm-ups could well favour England if it disrupts the Test itself. But the Aussies surely have it.

Prediction: 3-1 Australia

Tim Wigmore

Only once in the past four Ashes tours have England won a Test, emphasising how remarkable the 3-1 victory in 2010/11 was. After spending four years bemoaning a lack of variety in their bowling attack, England once again arrive Down Under with an abundance of right-arm seamers bowling at 80-85mph. But one of those, Ollie Robinson, may well finish as England’s top wicket-waker: his cocktail of height and bounce, allied to being able to move the ball enough - including by generating reverse swing - helped England Lions defeat Australia A in a first-class game at the MCG at the start of 2020. Chris Woakes also has a prime opportunity to showcase his improvements away from home, benefitting from working with Darren Gough.

The return of Ben Stokes allows England to select a five-man attack, and may particularly benefit Mark Wood and Jack Leach. With two Test matches now under lights, England have reason to hope that their experienced pace attack will bring at least one victory, even if the notion of day-night Tests as more unpredictable than other games is overblown.

While Australia’s batting line-up lacks anything like the depth of 20 years ago, it still boasts Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith; if England are tiring, number six Cameron Green may enjoy a debut Ashes series to relish. Australia probably won’t match their gargantuan run-making of the 2017/18 Ashes, especially with the Kookaburra ball now offering a little more assistance for seam, but they should still score too many for Joe Root and company to match, though Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler are well-placed to succeed at six and seven.

If one of Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood are injured early in the series, England will spy an opportunity. But they seldom do. After a combined 9-0 loss over the past two Ashes tours, a 3-1 loss here, given all the obstacles England have encountered before Brisbane, might even feel like progress.

Prediction: 3-1 Australia

Do you fancy England's chances Down Under? Let us know in the comments section below

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