sport

Gillespie: England are favourites

Former Australia bowler Jason Gillespie believes England will deservedly start as favourites for their defence of the Ashes later this year.

England retained the famous urn with an emphatic 3-1 win in the five-match Test series on Australian soil in 2010/11, and have been tipped to dictate terms again when the famous rivalry resumes in July.

Gillespie, having been installed as Yorkshire's first-team coach in 2011, has been able to assess the hosts' preparations first hand, and believes English optimism is well-placed.

"They are incredibly confident over here but they deserve to start favourites, England, no doubt about it," Gillespie told The Australian newspaper.

"I think potentially they could underestimate our bowling. I've been speaking about it quite regularly over here and saying, 'Don't underestimate the strength of Australia's pace bowling attack'.

"But England won't underestimate Australia. They're too clever for that and I know the England management has already been doing a lot of research.

"They've been planning and researching for a long time. I've got no doubt they'll be wary."

Gillespie, who claimed 259 wickets in 71 Tests for Australia between 1996 and 2006, expects England's well-established bowling attack to trouble a relatively inexperienced Australian batting line-up.

"England's bowling is very good at the moment," he said. "Coming up against the Australian batting order, they will rightly feel they're in the game. They feel they can put Australia under pressure and can have Michael Clarke coming in consistently very early, at two or three down for not very many.

"James Anderson is one of the best going around. He'll lead the attack, (Steven) Finn is a very good bowler, (Tim) Bresnan is a very good bowler, (Stuart) Broad has had a bit of an up-and-down time but he's also a very good bowler.

"Graeme Swann is one of the best spin bowlers in the world, if not the number one. Their batting is strong and they've got the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world (Matt Prior) so they're in a good place."