Leicestershire veteran and former England player Paul Nixon has confidently predicted a historic 2-1 victory for England in the fast-approaching Ashes series.
Nixon, who has played over 350 first-class matches, mostly for Leicestershire, thinks that this will be the winter that England can overcome the Australians in their own backyard and retain the Ashes despite the inevitable challenges that Ricky Ponting’s side will offer.
“I think England will win the series, I think they will win the series 2-1," he told Cricket World.
"The Australians will do well early, I think they will get a big score against us and put us under pressure early on in the series but we have got man-for-man better individuals and I think our bowling side is a better bowling unit to get 20 wickets.”
Although for England to win, Nixon follows the general consensus and believes that outstanding off-spinner Graeme Swann will have to continue his fine form with the ball for England to take 20 wickets in each individual game.
“The Australian pitches are good pitches, it will be interesting to see how they go. If they make them more bowler friendly to help Australia, time will tell. Swann will have a huge impact in the series but you have got to get wickets. If we get wickets in clusters then we will do well, good players get in and score good runs in test cricket but if we hold our chances and get a wicket then we have got a chance of bowling them out twice.”
Nixon feels that Australia’s recent battle with the number one ranked Test team in the world - India, in India - will have taken its toll on them as they have played on wickets that will be completely different to that of Australia or even England. The Australian groundsmen may take it upon themselves to prepare the pitches in favor of the Australian bowlers, but either way England have got to be ready.
“In effect it works really well for England that Australia have toured India because it is a tough place to tour, mentally, physically and technically. The Australians coming back home is very different so I think it brings Australia down a peg or two by the time we get there, they will have to acclimatize themselves rather than being run of the mill. Their batters will be under a bit more pressure and the England bowlers are fully confident. We have got a great work ethic and a strong spirit and I have spoken to a few guys individually over the past couple of months and nobody has a bad word to say about anybody, you know you are in a great space then.”
England have been guilty in the past of not preparing adequately for important series, although it does not seem to be the case for the up and coming Ashes series. Nixon echoes captain Andrew Strauss’s sentiments and feels that England can not take the warm up games lightly and need to make the most of them, in terms of acclimatising themselves to the tough conditions.
“England have to start really well. The pitches are different, they are quicker and they bounce. The majority of the balls come through about thigh and stomach height, whereas in England it is between knee and hip height. The ball is a little bit quicker through the air as well. Our guys have just got to acclimatise well and the pre-ashes games are so important, they are as important as the big stuff because Australia know the conditions, they will have their plans and they know their wickets. They have all played there day in and day out, as we have here so it is important that the England guys start really well from day one.”
© Cricket World 2010