Ashes winner John Emburey believes Graeme Swann is England’s best off-spinner in 35 years and can bowl the current holders to victory in Australia.
Emburey formed an effective partnership with fellow Middlesex spinner Philippe Edmonds in 1986/87 - the last time England won the Ashes Down Under.
The former off-spinner praised the way captain Mike Gatting used his spin options, to take wickets and control the run-rate, during that series and thinks Swann is a good enough bowler to play both roles in Australia.
Spin, drift and wickets
"In 1986/87 when things weren’t going well for the team Phil Edmonds and I controlled the game and didn’t let things get away from us and the Australians didn’t play finger spin particularly well." said the 58-year-old.
Without a doubt he [Swann] is good enough to build that kind of pressure on his own because he’s a top quality bowler.
"I don’t think England have had as good an off-spinner as Swann since Fred Titmus which is a long time ago. People regard me as being a good off-spinner but I think Swann is a better bowler than I was.
"He spins it more, gets more drift and is more of an attacking bowler as well. Swanny is a big spinner of the ball and if there is anything there – he will get it out of the pitch."
Hauritz the best bet
Emburey meanwhile backed under-fire off-spinner Nathan Hauritz to solve Australia’s slow-bowling issues.
Steve Smith and Xavier Doherty were also selected for the Australian’s provisional 17-man squad but Emburey insists Hauritz is the best man for the job.
He said: "I think the spinner situation is a huge problem for Australia.
"I’ve watched Smith and Hauritz bowl and I think Hauritz is the best of the three and he will get the nod in the early games.
"He did very well here after being written off in the series against England last year and he will do a good job for them.
"For England I think it’s important they get on top of the Australian’s and certainly on top of the spinner.
"I expect Swann to outbowl Hauritz in the series but then Hauritz has experience in those conditions and Swanny doesn’t."
Despite his confidence in Swann however, Emburey was hesitant about predicting an England victory.
"I think it’s going to be a fascinating series." he added.
"We’ve had all the talk from the media etcetera and lot of ex-cricketers are confident that England will do well and win out there but I’m going to sit on the fence a little bit.
"At the moment England have the advantage - they’re playing well, Australia are not - but I think it’s going to be 1-1 or 2-2. I think it will be a draw."