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Agnew: 'England should win ashes' Published: 22 October 2010

Test Match Special commentator, Jonathan Agnew, says England "have a better side" than Australia and that he'd be "disappointed if we don’t win" the forthcoming Ashes Series.

Speaking exclusively to Lords.org, at a signing event for his latest book, 'Thanks, Johnners', the former England seamer spoke confidently about England's Ashes prospects.

Despite England’s 5-0 capitulation in Australia four years ago, Agnew has even confidently predicted a 3-1 victory for the tourists this winter.

Australia "exposed"

Agnew was critical of Australia's seam bowlers’ performances against Pakistan in England this summer.

"I just think we’ve got the better side, I really do." said the Test Match Special commentator and BBC Cricket Correspondent.

"You look at their bowling attack - they were horribly exposed in India. I know that’s quite often the case, but Nathan Hauritz looked very exposed and their seamers were exposed here against Pakistan.

"We know they haven’t got the depth. I just don’t see where they’re going to get wickets from.

Agnew considers Aussie captain Ricky Ponting their only top grade batsman:

"They’ve only really got Ponting as a world-class batsman and he’s going to be distracted and under pressure with talk about the captaincy. It’ll be interesting to see how he gets on.

Sportsman's agreements

"I’ve challenged - I don’t want to use the word ‘bet’ anymore - Jim Maxwell [Australian commentaror] for 3-1. It might be a little bit bold but I don’t think there will be many draws."

"I’ve also got a very good ‘sportsman’s agreement’ with [former Australia bowler] Shane Warne, that Steven Finn will take more wickets than Hauritz.

"The winner has dinner, on the other, in a restaurant of the victor’s choice. So I’ve told Finn to pull his finger out!

"I’m very impressed with Finn. Not just the bowler but the young man.

"He’s very grown up, he’s very calm. In many ways he bowls like Angus Fraser - except without the tantrums!

"He doesn’t lose his rag, he keeps very calm, he concentrates and gets on with bowling and I’m really impressed by that because he is very young.

"Even on a very hot day in Adelaide with the ball going all over the place I don’t think he’ll lose it.

"He seems like a natural. I can’t see him getting overawed by anything, even walking out in front of 90,000 in Melbourne, I just don’t think it’ll affect him."

Backing Pietersen

Agnew also backed the under-fire Kevin Pietersen to re-discover his touch in the middle.

Pietersen made a duck in his last Test innings, against Pakistan at Lord’s, this summer.

However, Agnew backs him for the big occasion though insists he will have to get runs in England's warm-up matches to be sure of his place in the side.

"I would think, knowing Pietersen, a man who loves the big occasion, he’ll have a good series.

"I wouldn’t put him in come what may though, he’s got to score some runs.

"It’s up to Pietersen to lay the speculation over his place to rest. If he gets an early hundred - either in Adelaide or Hobart then it should kill all that."

"They’re a good combination. Andrew Strauss is a bit more extrovert, he’s good with the media. His own form is terrific, he’s really blossoming under the captaincy. He’s an intelligent man. He doesn’t get over excited, he’s very measured.

"I would just question Flower on his judgement on boxing. I saw him the other day and daren’t ask him about it.

"He’ll be cross that this happened. He took responsibility for it, that’s the sort of guy that he is.

"It’s things like that at times that make you want to pull your hair out. Boxing! He could have broken a finger, who knows what other injury he might have sustained. It’s just moments like that which make you think ‘what is going on?’

"I should think James Anderson is furious. The whole start of the tour is going to be: ‘James Anderson, is he going to be fit?’ so that’ll be a bit of a distraction.

"I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win because we should be able to.

"It can’t get any worse than the last one over there!"

Boxing blow

Agnew also gave his seal of approval to the captain and coaching combination of the two Andrews, Strauss and Flower - though did question the boxing training which resulted in James Anderson's rib injury:


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