Oz will win Ashes because they have to
Shane Warne believes Australia will triumph in the Ashes series against England, which starts in one week, because they know the local conditions and that defeat would mean a complete overhaul of the team.
The Australian media painted a picture of a cricketing nation in crisis on Thursday with selectors dithering over their preferred line-up for next week`s first Test in Brisbane and key players battling injury, and more worrying, slumps in form.
Former Test wicket-taking great Warne, while acknowledging that England have their best chance in a long time of winning on Australian soil, thinks his compatriots will raise their game when necessary to reclaim the urn that England won last year.
"If Australia lose this, they`re going to go even further down the chain and probably there`ll be a big upheaval of the team as well," he told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground this week.
"They know what`s at stake and I`m sure they`re going to lift their game and play exceptionally good cricket and win."
"I think England before a ball is bowled have got their best chance of winning, but I think Australia will win because they know the conditions better," he added.
"When the tight moments are there, Australia will just get over the line."
Another great Ashes performer, former England captain and all rounder Ian Botham, said he had been surprised by Australia`s decision to pick such a large squad for the first Test.
"I`m loving it at the moment because it seems Australia are at each other`s throats, which is great from our point of view," he told the Sydney Morning Herald in Melbourne.
"I`ve never known Australia to pick a 17-man squad for a Test match, which ... tells me they haven`t really got any idea what they`re going to do ... which is just so un-Australian."
Australia said they picked such a large squad to let players fight for places in the team through their performances in Sheffield Shield matches and the Australia A match against England.
"I see confusion, I see doubt," said Botham. "It`s almost becoming match-offs with guys playing against each other in Shield games. The more confused Australia are, the happier I am."
England`s preparations have, by contrast, run like clockwork since their arrival in Perth and Botham backed them to win a series in Australia for the first time since the 1986/7 triumph he was part of.
"I think (England) are well organised, they`ve slipped under the radar ... they`ve got a settled side, they know what their team is," he said. "I`m happy."