Former Australia captain believes England’s World Cup triumph will have no impact on the Ashes
Former Australia cricketer Steve Waugh says the Ashes are too close to call as England and Australia prepare to resume battle, with the visitors seeking their first away win in the series for 18 years.
With the exception of the 2010/11 series in Australia, which England won 3-1, home advantage has been decisive since Waugh's side triumphed 4-1 away in 2001.
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But the former Australia captain, 54, said it was "50-50" as to who would emerge triumphant over the course of the five Tests starting at Edgbaston on Thursday.
"I really believe it's a big ask for the fast bowlers on both sides to play five Tests in six weeks and that could have a big impact on the whole series,” said Waugh. "Depth in the squad will be important but I honestly think if I was a betting man I wouldn't back either side because I don't know who's going to win. It's going to be that even. I think it's going to be a fantastic series."
Waugh, who is mentoring the Australians, said it was a mystery why Australia had not won in England for so long but his advice to the players would be to "make your own history".
"We've come up against some really good England sides in those last 18 years. We've had some tight series and moments when we could have won the series, probably a bit like the other way round for England in that period where they lost a lot," he said.
England go into the series buoyed by winning the World Cup for the first time, but Waugh said that triumph would have no impact on the Ashes.
"One-day cricket is irrelevant to Test cricket," he said. "They're different teams, different captains. It's a different sport really. If you compare Test cricket and one-day cricket you're almost not playing the same sport. It's played in a totally different way.”
"England will say it's important for everyone and sure, if you win that's great but when it comes to the first Test at Edgbaston it's not going to matter what happened in the one-day World Cup," he added.
The first Test is taking place in Birmingham, where England have not lost since 2008, but Waugh said he would be telling his players to put that out of their minds.
"I've won there in Ashes contests," he said. "I think if you start believing something and building it up it becomes true but in my mind it shouldn't be an issue."