Former New Zealand seamer Iain O’Brien believes Australia’s superior bowling attack will lead them to an Ashes victory Down Under this winter.
Speaking exclusively to Lords.org, the Middlesex bowler backed Ricky Ponting’s men for a 3-1 series victory, with their seam attack leading the way.
O’Brien played 22 Tests for his country in a five year Test career. That included two defeats in Australia in 2008, and he understands what a difficult proposition Australia can be in their own back yard.
Whilst praising England’s efforts this summer, the 34-year-old thinks Ricky Ponting has the more dangerous battery of bowlers at his disposal.
"I think Australia’s bowling attack, in home conditions, is very good and that’s a big difference." said O’Brien.
"This England bowling attack is very good but I think they might struggle to take the wickets necessary to win over there.
"This summer they were playing against Bangladesh, who are not a great team, and Pakistan who are in a bit of disarray and though they deserve everything they got, I don’t think it’s going to be that easy.
"For Australia their two left-arm quicks are a big point of difference.
"You can just wind Doug Bollinger up, then take the ball off him when you think he’s had enough and Mitchell Johnson is due for a really good series.
"That is something in cricket that does happen - he really is due and he’s a very good bowler. Australia are waiting on a guy like that.
"Then you’ve got [Ben] Hilfenhaus who’s probably going to lead the attack as the front-line seamer and he’s a good bowler who has aggression.
"And there is also [Peter] Siddle who is another guy you can wind-up and let go. Most of those guys bowl genuinely around 90mph and hit the deck hard.
Swann versus History
O’Brien also warned England fans not to expect too much from star spinner Graeme Swann on the batsman friendly Australian tracks.
With Australia’s number one spinner, Nathan Hauritz, struggling for form, many have highlighted Swann as the potential difference between the sides.
However, O’Brien points to the history books in order to quell English expectations.
"He’s the number one spinner in the world and that sums it up. The thing is though, looking at stats down the years, off-spinners don’t really do that well in Australia.
"It’s been said before but their records are not that great and they haven’t really produced that many match-winning off spinners.
"They tend not to do that well over there.
"I’d love to see him have great success but it might not come as easy as he had it over here where the ball was doing all sorts for him."