Gilchrist makes England favourites for Ashes

London: Former Australia star Adam Gilchrist claims England are favourites to win the forthcoming Ashes series.

Gilchrist believes England are in the perfect frame of mind to triumph on Australian soil for the first time since 1986-87.

Andrew Strauss`s side regained the Ashes with a 2-1 victory in 2009 and have managed to maintain the momentum from that victory, while Australia have been less impressive since then.

The series gets underway in Brisbane on November 25 and wicketkeeper-batsman Gilchrist, who was a key figure in
several Australian Ashes triumphs, said: "I see a very confident, compact England unit about to arrive.

"England should start favourites - they are the most composed group at the moment and seem to have confidence about each other and as a group. That will serve them well on that first morning.

"But either team could win it. I agree with (England captain) Andrew Strauss - I think you can hardly split the top four or five teams in world cricket at the moment.

"There is no dominant team in cricket at the moment. On any given day one can beat the other."

Australia lost their last Test series in India, and Ricky Ponting`s team are a shadow of the great sides that Gilchrist played in.

The retirements of key players like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath makes Australia a less daunting proposition but Gilchrist insists they will still be competitive on home turf.

Gilchrist added on BBC Radio 5Live: "Australia have a tremendous home record and have been particularly strong over the last 15-20 years. The West Indies did well in the 1980s and early 90s but since then it`s been a bit bare for the touring teams.

"Australia play the conditions well and (captain) Ricky Ponting plays particularly well in home conditions. There is going to be a lot of weight on his shoulders if they`re to be successful and I suspect he`ll be up for it too.

"But there is uncertainty about what their best XI is when everyone is fully fit. The bowling has suffered a great deal of disruption and that makes it difficult.

"The spin-bowling position has always been under question since Shane Warne left. Nathan Hauritz has tried his best and received great support from the selectors and that will be another contentious issue as the series hots up.

"The team have taken a blow in confidence with a series of negative results and I think we are realising we don`t like losing and took for granted that we were winning so often.

"But it`s a new period in Australian cricket and there is no need to talk about the previous group."

Bureau Report