Predictions about the outcome of the Ashes series

Brisbane: Predictions by former cricketers about the outcome of the Ashes series between Australia and England, which starts in Brisbane on Thursday:

"I think it will be very close but England will win the series 2-1. The Ashes have gone back and forth but this time they may well stay with England."

Mike Gatting, the last England captain to win the Ashes in Australia in 1986-87.

"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. When the tight moments are there, Australia will just get over the line."

Shane Warne, former Australia spin bowler

"I would be amazed if Australia won the series, and I say that because the only way they can do it is if England freeze. But I don`t see England doing that."

Ian Botham, former England captain.

"(England) play very well together, they`re hard to beat, they`ve got a good team spirit, they`re well led and I think they`ll fancy their chances of beating Australia.

"(But) we know our conditions very well in Australia, we`re very confident here and we`ve got a quality side so there`s no reason they can`t win."

Steve Waugh, former Australia captain, who predicts a 3-2 win for the hosts.

"I don`t think it`s going to be the carnage that (Douglas) Jardine caused (in the "bodyline" series) but I think it`ll be England by a Test match at the end of the series."

Tony Greig, former England captain.

"I go for 2-2 and take your pick about the last one because I think this is going to be a tremendous series, hard-fought with some wonderful cricket."

Richie Benaud, former Australia captain.

"It`s our most realistic chance since 1987. For so many years it seemed that (Australia) didn`t know how to lose but they do now. The likes of Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad and Andrew Strauss are real match-winners and we therefore have a great chance."

Michael Vaughan, former England captain.

"I`m still going with the 5-0. I can`t really say anything else now, I guess I`ve dug a bit of a hole for myself, but I`ve got total faith in our boys. It should be a good series. The games should all be relatively close, with Australia just getting home in every Test."

Glenn McGrath, former Australia fast bowler.

10-11 Australia to win the series

13-8 England to win the series

9-2 Series drawn

William Hill, bookmaker.

Bureau Report