Warne – “Australia confused – Advantage England”
The shock selection of Tim Paine as wicketkeeper has underlined confusion around the Australian side ahead of the Ashes, according to Shane Warne, who believes England are a more settled unit.
The ‘Sheik of Tweak’ believes Australia’s pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins won’t stir up the same fear in England as Mitchell Johnson did in 2013-14.
Johnson terrorised the visitors’ batsman in Australia’s 5-0 whitewash to take 37 wickets at venomous pace, but Warne doubts an identical display by Australia in this series.
England don’t fear Australia
“England no longer fear Australia and haven’t for a long time and, hence, that’s why they can beat Australia.”
Paine and Shaun Marsh are the shock call-ups for Brisbane on Thursday, while Cameron Bancroft has replaced out-of-form and under-fire opening batsman Matt Renshaw.
Paine replaces Tasmanian teammate Matthew Wade behind the stumps, seven years after his last Test, while 34-year-old Marsh earns his controversial eighth recall amid an absence of No.6 prospects displaying worthy form.
Warne said while both sides relied on too few players, Australia’s home advantage and superior bowling attack would ultimately overwhelm England.
“Australia looks confused. They’re picking wicketkeepers that aren’t even keeping for their state,” Warne said on Friday, in reference to Wade taking the gloves ahead of Paine in Sheffield Shield.
England’s preparation not great
Meanwhile, the England side have underwhelmed in their lead-up and England’s Australian coach Trevor Bayliss is concerned about their substandard preparation
England are already under pressure with the absence of vice-captain and star all-rounder Ben Stokes and pace bowler Steven Finn has already been sent home with a season-ending injury.
Completing a match in Townsville against an inexperienced Cricket Australia side on a low, slow pitch is not the perfection preparation for the fastest deck in world cricket, Brisbane’s Gabba.
Accordingly, the markets don’t reflect Shane Warne’s opinions and given Australia’s imposing Gabba record and the forecast hot and humid weather, Australia are $1.77 favourites with Sportsbet for Thursday’s first test, with England extraordinarily good value at $3.90.