Authors: Rio Sports
Who will win?
Vic Marks: Australia – because they usually do. England have won there once in their last seven tours.
Jason Gillespie: Australia will win because I’m not convinced England can take 20 wickets consistently if conditions don’t suit Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson.
Ali Martin: Australia to pilfer the urn, with home conditions proving the difference between what are two imperfect teams with near identical win-loss records since the last time they met.
Andy Bull: Australia. Their fast bowlers are just that much more dangerous in these conditions and England’s batsmen haven’t kicked their bad habit of collapsing in a heap.
Geoff Lemon: With both having weaknesses, home advantage will make the difference. If Australia’s bowlers stay fit, they’re too good. Lose two, and things will look different.
Adam Collins: Australia on the simple basis they will win the race to 20 wickets more often. Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins make a trio of world-class brutes. The trick: keeping them fit.
And the score?
VM 3-1. I fancy England’s chances in Adelaide if they bowl at the right time; they usually struggle in Perth. Then they arrive in Sydney 2-1 down with the Ashes still alive for the first time since 1982-3.
JG 3-1. England’s best chance for a Test win is Adelaide under lights, with a draw in Perth or the MCG and Australia to then win in Sydney. Their attack should be too strong.
AM 3-2. Draws seem passe for both teams and with the roulette wheel of a day-night Test too, a fluctuating series is not out of the question. It would be great fun too.
AB 3-2, because I’m an optimist. The day-night match will be a crapshoot and this Australia side aren’t so good that they’ll be able to sweep the other four Tests.
GL 4-1. Small chance of rain, and two sets of fallible batsmen who play in fast forward. So forget the draw but England should jag a win.
AC 3-2. Draws are a thing of your granddaddy’s era. Coupling that with the fragility of both batting lists, expect plenty of golf to be played on the fifth days.
Man of the series?
VM Mitchell Starc. He may not be quite as quick as Mitchell Johnson but if everything clicks he is the most dangerous bowler on either side.
JG Josh Hazlewood will be Glenn McGrath-esque in his consistency and I’m looking at him to finish up around the 30-wicket mark.
AM Steve Smith, who has batted on another level at home in recent times. Which superstar captain at No4 is best set up by their top three – or forced to firefight more often – could be key.
AB Josh Hazlewood. Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc may be faster, but Hazlewood will be the backbone of the attack and probably finish the series as Australia’s leading wicket-taker.
GL Josh Hazlewood. Mitchell Starc is lightning – scary, and never in the same place. The straight man of the attack knows his conditions, hits his length, and will clean up after his strike partner.
AC Since the last time these teams met, David Warner has reconstructed his game to be more suitable for all conditions. “Aggressive defence”, is his new doctrine. He’s also fitter and more focused than ever. Look out.
Most looking forward to …
VM Being proven completely wrong.
JG Seeing the speed gun being pushed over that 150kmh (93mph) mark by Starc and Cummins. I love watching the former when it reverses too, going around and getting those yorkers in – it’s one of the great sights in world cricket.
AM Seeing whether Mitchell Starc ploughs on with the moustache after Movember is up, a la Mitchell Johnson four years ago.
AB The latest instalments of Jimmy Anderson’s late-career masterclass in the art of bowling medium-fast.
GL Steve Smith versus Joe Root: two grand appetites at the cricket buffet, as the young captains face off for the first time.
AC Moeen Ali and Nathan Lyon having more influence than the cynics will insist. That, and the circus when Ben Stokes is inevitably airlifted in. Grab the popcorn.
Least looking forward to …
VM Writing those agonising postmortems if England lose badly. Taking the flak once again.
JG Hearing about this fabled fairytale that is “the spirit of cricket”. I don’t want to hear that term at all!
AM Talk of “psychological scars” or “brand of cricket”. Or “whitewash”.
AB My grudging admiration for David Warner when he inevitably thrashes England’s attack for 150 somewhere along the way.
GL The ECB press release when they rush Ben Stokes over. And the CA press release when they recall Geoff Marsh.
AC Australia’s cringeworthy sledging. They’re a nice bunch of blokes, honest. In turn, they really don’t do the mental disintegration thing very well.
When it’s over we’ll all say …
VM “Actually I had a sneaking feeling Vince and Ballance would be our leading runscorers.”
JG This may be a pipedream, but “this series was on par with the 2005 Ashes”. I’d take a narrow win for Australia if it rivalled that.
AM “England comfortably outsung their opponents in the stands.” AM
AB “How good was Ben Stokes’ match-winning century in the fifth Test?”
GL “Why did we agree to put predictions in a newspaper? Ah well. Let’s do it all again at your place.” GL
AC “It wasn’t pretty, but because of that, it was the best damn Ashes scrap on Australian soil for a couple of generations.”Why is first Ashes day-night Test and pink ball a big deal? – video explainer
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