Kevin Pietersen: England are relying on Joe Root to win them the Ashes
The Betway ambassador believes a combination of off-field restrictions and a weak batting line-up means England are likely to struggle down under.
It will take a monumental effort for England to win the Ashes
It would be incredibly harsh on Joe Root to say that this series will define his time as England captain because circumstances mean that it is going to be difficult for his team to succeed.
There are so many unknowns. The players don’t have the comfort of knowing what’s going to be allowed over the next few weeks or even where each Test match is going to be played.
In 2010/11, we were so well prepared for exactly what we were going to face. This tour must be very unsettling for the players.
It will take a monumental effort to overcome those issues and concentrate on playing the cricket required to beat Australia in Australia.
Hard to see England scoring enough runs
Even leaving aside the non-cricket issues, it’s difficult to see England scoring the runs that they will need.
At the moment, there is an incredible reliance on the captain to score all of the team’s runs, with Ben Stokes chipping in here and there.
This line-up is nowhere near the top five that we had 11 years ago when Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, myself and Ian Bell all contributed to a combined total of over 2,000 runs between us.
Taking wickets in Australia isn’t easy, and it’s going to be very difficult for Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad to do the business without an awful lot of runs on the board.
I take a look down England’s line-up and I just don’t see it happening. I hope I’m wrong, and I look forward to seeing whether one or two of Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan can do the business, but it’s difficult to imagine right now.
It’s key to not go under in the first Test
I’ve been on three Ashes tours, and on two of them – 2006/07 and 2013/14 – the first Test was a disaster. We ended up losing both of those series 5-0.
In the other, in 2010/11, we emerged from Brisbane with a ‘winning’ draw and went on to win the series 3-1.
If you can keep things steady in Brisbane, even by just avoiding defeat, then the Aussie media will start questioning their own team.
That’s where you want to get them – in a position where they are being shot at by their own media and being made to feel uncomfortable.
If you lose badly in the first Test, then it becomes a very, very long tour. All the confidence you have disappears and it feel like they’re just going to keep pummelling you. That’s what generally happens.
Pat Cummins as captain is an unknown
I know Pat Cummins really well and he is an absolute superstar. He’s one of the nicest guys around and a fierce competitor.
It’s difficult to know how he will go as captain because bowlers so rarely take charge in Test cricket. Will he overbowl or underbowl himself? How much will he lean on other senior players?
Having Steve Smith there alongside him is definitely in his favour. Smith has a sharp cricket brain and in a parallel universe would probably still be Australia captain.
Marnus Labuschagne also has a very clever cricketing brain and is capable of making smart decisions.
Ultimately, I don’t see Cummins taking charge affecting Australia too much. He’s an experienced player.
I think there’s every chance that he’ll be lifting the urn as an Ashes-winning captain in a few weeks’ time.
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