McCullum favours `tough` England to retain Ashes urn

Updated: Jun 29, 2013, 12:02 PM IST

Johannesburg: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has said that he expected England to retain the Ashes urn, and added that Australia has considerably less chances of winning the five-Test series.

England begin their defence of the Ashes against arch-rivals Australia in the first of a five-Test series at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on July 10.

McCullum is well-placed to assess England`s standing, having led New Zealand in five Tests, home and away, against Alastair Cook`s men this year, who however, won a two-Test series 2-0 following a crushing win in the final Test at Headingley in May despite clinging on desperately to square a three match series away in New Zealand.

Stating that England would be a tough team to beat during the Ashes, McCullum said that England seemed to got their confidence back in the final Test match against his team, adding that they found out in that match that England is a tough team to compete against or beat when they are firing.

According to McCullum, despite his team holding their own for long periods of the summer, England showed its might when needed, adding that he does not expect that condition to change during the Ashes.

However, a washed-out second Twenty20 international at The Oval on Thursday saw New Zealand end their tour with a 1-0 win in a two-match series following a five-run success at the same ground on Tuesday.

In comparison to Australia, who is still coming to terms with the shock axing of their coach Mickey Arthur on Monday, England however, can so far boast a relatively trouble-free preparation for the Ashes opener.