The Betway ambassador looks ahead to the first Test of the 2023 Ashes at Edgbaston and reveals his prediction for the series.
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My advice for England
The way to beat Australia is to go into combat mode and attack.
On the first day of the Edgbaston Test in 2005, our England team approached that match in combat mode. We were going to attack Australia from ball one.
When you fight fire with fire against Australia, you have a way better chance than being tactical, pragmatic and slow. You’ve really got to take the attack to them.
The way England are playing at the moment, they mustn’t change that approach. They must go out against Australia on Friday and from ball one, it’s just aggression, aggression, aggression.
It’s how we beat Australia in 2005 and started that transformation in English cricket.
It hasn’t happened in the last couple of Ashes series, and I think that is the only way in which England can win this.
Australia are a proper side
As combative and as aggressive as you want to be, this Australian team are actually very, very good.
Scotty Boland is a buddy of mine, I played with him at the Melbourne Stars for a long time, he is a proper bowler. To just start smacking him, it’s not easy. You’ve got Cummins and Stark, and Hazlewood is back. They also have a very, very high-quality spinner.
Then their batting lineup: Smith, Labuschagne, Warner, Head, Carey. These guys are no mugs. Cameron Green batting at six, he is a proper cricketer.
This Australia side have some serious quality.
Two major concerns for England
The tactic to beat Australia is to be positive and be aggressive, however, you still need to have the players that are good enough to be able to do that.
My main concern with this England team is that their players aren’t good enough. One, two, and three aren’t good enough to play that way against what Australia have in the bowling department.
I really hope they prove me wrong, but this could be career-defining for them as batters.
Whoever bats best in the series is going to win the series, for sure. I’ve always said batters get you sponsorships and bowlers win you championships, but I just think that you’ve got to get those runs.
Another big worry is fitness. Broad and Anderson can’t play five Test matches in six or seven weeks. I saw Stokes close-up in India, I was there for a lot of the Chennai games, and I looked out for Ben to see how he was doing. Yes, he was bowling, but he certainly wasn’t where he should be to bowl at this Australian side.
It’s going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
Moeen makes England better
The one bright light for England is that they are a better team with Moeen Ali than they are with Jack Leach. They’re a much better team.
Jack Leach is ordinary. He’s an ordinary spinner who doesn’t bat.
Moeen Ali does the same job with the ball and is an attacking batsman who can come in and change the course of a Test match in a single session.
My Ashes prediction
My heart, of course, wants England to win. But I think that Australia have a very good chance, just because I don’t think England’s one, two, and three match up. I just don’t think they do.
I want 3-2 England, but I fear it might be 4-1 Australia.