England strong favourites for Ashes glory
Both England and Australia have just about rounded off preparations for the all-important Ashes series starting next week at Trent Bridge.
The best news for England is that Kevin Pietersen has recovered from injury and is back in the team.
He scored a big hundred for Surrey in the County Championship match against Yorkshire last week at the Oval. Not only has he recovered from injury but he is also in good form.
The England middle order without Pietersen looks distinctly ordinary. He has a good record against the Aussies so irrespective of the periodical problems he has with the England management an England team with Pietersen in its ranks is a lot more formidable.
Just as Pietersen is a key member of the England batting lineup so is Graeme Swann as far as the bowling department is concerned. Unfortunately the news around Swann is not that good. He has been plagued by injury in recent months and his physical problems show no sign of letting up.
His form when he has played lately hasn’t been that good either. Swann is a pivotal part of the England attack. For England to be at their best they need a fit and in-form Swann.
Although England in my opinion aren't as strong as they were two years ago they will still go into this series on home soil as strong favourites.
Under English conditions they have a well balanced team. Their seam attack is steady and with Pietersen back they have a strong batting lineup.
The Aussies have been under the cosh due to a whole host of issues off the field. This won’t help their cause, but it isn’t by any means their biggest concern. They are simply not a very strong team.
Their batting resources are very limited and they have an inexperienced seam attack. The English batsmen won’t be losing any sleep over the Aussie spin department either.
In many circles it is felt that from an ability point of view this is one of the most inadequate Australian teams that will contest an Ashes series.
I have no doubt that new coach Darren Lehman will use all the negative talk to fortify his team and get them to scrap. If they start well they may surprise a few people. At this point though it looks like England all the way.