The time for ‘trash-talk’ is over as cricket takes centre-stage at Brisbane. The Ashes battle resumes on Thursday as visitors England look to regain the all-important trophy, in Australia.
Our writers predict what they think would be the outcome of the highly-anticipated five-Test series.
Can England retain the urn?
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We’ll soon find out whether the pre-series narrative of a rabid Aussie attack devouring England is true but both ideas seem built on hypotheticals.
The hosts’ quicks are injury prone and only Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc are proven Test commodities. Providing Joe Root, Alastair Cook, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali deliver, the batting is there for England.
Unless they can find that third bowler, though, taking 20 wickets a match will be tough.
VERDICT: Australia to win 3-1.
Posing for the camera: Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith (c) and Usman Khawaja (r).
Australia are great at talking themselves up but look beyond the bravado and you won’t find a heap of reasons why they should be so confident.
England are facing a mighty task – it’s hard enough to win an away series against anyone – but these teams are closely matched.
If you’ve been swept up by the love-in for Australia’s pace trio then consider that they have yet to play a Test together, while Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad have almost 900 wickets between them. Expect a tight series.
VERDICT: A 2-2 draw
Who’s your money on: Steve Smith or Joe Root.
Looking at the two line-ups it’s very hard to see anything but an Australian victory at home.
The hosts have three gun, form bats – Steve Smith, David Warner and Usman Khawaja – all who love Australian conditions and a scorching pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, who love to rip in on fast bouncy pitches and, more importantly, are fully fit.
In reply the tourists have a brittle batting order and an aging ‘pace’ attack. Who cares who’s keeping wickets? Aussies by a mile.
VERDICT: Australia 4-1
Key man: Mitchell Starc
You shouldn’t need motivation for an Ashes campaign, but thanks to Nathan Lyon England have been given a pre-series boost.
Joe Root will be pinning the press clippings of the spinner’s comments onto the Gabba dressing room wall and using them to spur the team. I expect Root to learn from his disappointing last stint Down Under and lead his team to a series win.
It won’t be easy but England have more collective experience than one of the most mediocre Australian Test sides in recent history.
VERDICT: England to win 2-1
Will they be celebrating after the series: England
As was the case during the last Ashes Down Under, England will be up against an unforgiving pace attack.
In a five Test series, the team that has the more potent bowling attack usually calls the shots and while James Anderson and Stuart Broad are top class, Australia have an edge with Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
Both teams will be depending on a handful of batsmen so it’s the bowling that will make the difference.
VERDICT: Australia to win 3-1
All set for the challenge: David Warner