Ten reasons why England WILL win the Ashes
Let's not make any bones about it, England are going to win the Ashes and here's why.
1. Their best players have all got years left in them.
You look at Australia, and while they're not all in outstanding form, their supposed match winners are all moments away from retirement, and of course some have already retired. The likes of Ponting, Katich and Hussey have all had their time, while England's star men with the possible exception of Collingwood and Strauss have time on their side.
2. They're under better guidance.
In the last series Down Under, England were captained by Andrew Flintoff, a fantastic player no doubt, but he isn't a leader. Like Ian Botham years before him, Freddy was more suited as an allrounder with only that responsibility on his shoulders, the strain of the captaincy took away his fire on the pitch when the going was getting tough. This hasn't happened with the reliable Andrew Strauss.
3. They have the best bowler in the world.
The official rankings will have Graeme Swann listed as number two in the Test bowling list, with Dale Steyn ahead of him, personally I don't think there is a bowler who gets people worried as much as Swann does though. If you stick your bat in front of a Steyn delivery, no matter how fast it is you should be able to block it, Swann gets turn that no other bowler is at the minute, the England players are not going to be losing sleep over facing Xavier Doherty.
4. They have good back-up in all departments.
England's recent warm-up matches will have given Andy Flower food for thought. It's very likely that the likes of Tremlett, Bresnan and Panesar will all be watching the first Test from the sidelines, but if there is to be an injury to a front line bowler at least Flower knows he's got ready and able replacements, Australia's reserves have already proved they're not up to the task.
5. Australia have got used to losing.
Before 2005, Australia were the best in the business, nobody could beat them. Now, and they won't like to admit it, they just don't have the same aura about them and a lot of their players recently will have lost as many matches as they've won; in the recent form guide England have won all their series' they've just played and won the World Twenty20, against Australia, while the Aussies haven't won a decent series since March, I'm not counting a one-off ODI against Ireland as a meaningful result.
6. England have got used to winning.
The tables have very much turned, England now have the big names that are going to change a match, and they often do. Maybe Cook and Pietersen have disappointed recently, but if they're firing then England will be winning, they've even been winning when under-performing so when it all clicks it's going to be difficult for Australia to stop them retaining the urn.
7. Australia's bowlers are too hot and cold.
England's bowlers have been right on the money for over a year now and it's been very difficult to dislodge them from the team. Australia's best bowler is Mitchell Johnson but he's very inconsistent and is just as likely to hurl one down to second slip as he is to catch the edge, the supporting cast don't have a great lot of variety between them.
8. Australia don't know what their best XI is.
The Aussies have already sacked one of their selectors as they clearly couldn't all agree on who was best for the team. Merv Hughes was the man axed. I'm certain Andy Flower knows who is going to be lining up at the Gabba but has options if an injury surfaces, the Aussies named 17 players in their initial squad as too many players are out of touch, Tim Nielson might have to tell several nervous first-teamers that they're to be culled, and they might not return.
9. England no longer have a soft underbelly.
In days gone by, England would wobble in the middle order then their tail would collapse completely. Now they've got batters right down the card; Broad and Swann both have a few 50s to their name and Broad has a century against an impressive Pakistan attack. Australia's tail-enders struggle to know which end of the bat to use they're that bad.
10. It's long overdue.
Australia have pretty much always dominated these series' in my lifetime, but the 5-0 aside England have been getting a lot better recently, a team with the talent that England have are overdue a win in Australia, and while it might be against a team that's in decline it will taste just as sweet should the Three Lions retain the urn.