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Ashes contest too close to call, says former Australia captain Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh says the Ashes are too close to call as England and Australia prepare to resume battle, with the visitor seeking its first away win in the series for 18 years.
With the exception of the 2010/11 series in Australia, which England won 3-1, home advantage has been decisive since Waugh’s side triumphed 4-1 away in 2001. But the former Australia captain, 54, said it was “50-50” as to who would emerge triumphant over the course of the five Tests starting at Edgbaston on Thursday.
“I really believe it’s a big ask for the fast bowlers on both sides to play five Tests in six weeks and that could have a big impact on the whole series, so for instance Jimmy Anderson gets injured, or Mitchell Starc gets injured for us, it could really affect the line-up.
“Depth in the squad will be important but I honestly think if I was a betting man I wouldn’t back either side because I don’t know who’s going to win. It’s going to be that even. I think it’s going to be a fantastic series.” Waugh, who is mentoring the Australians, said it was a mystery why Australia had not won in England for so long but his advice to the players would be to “make your own history”.
“We’ve come up against some really good England sides in those last 18 years. We’ve had some tight series and moments when we could have won the series, probably a bit like the other way round for England in that period where they lost a lot.”
England goes into the series buoyed by winning the World Cup for the first time -- it beat 2015 champion Australia in the semi-final -- but Waugh said that triumph would have no impact on the Ashes. “One-day cricket is irrelevant to Test cricket,” he said. “They’re different teams, different captains. If you compare Test cricket and one-day cricket you’re almost not playing the same sport.
“England will say it’s important for everyone and sure, if you win that’s great but when it comes to the first Test at Edgbaston it’s not going to matter what happened in the one-day World Cup.” The first Test is taking place in Birmingham, where England has not lost since 2008, but Waugh said he would be telling his players to put that out of their minds.