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Ashes hosts Australia need to be humble for glory

LONDON: When you’re just a week away from the first ball being bowled and the one player that gives your side that X-factor is halfway around the world facing police charges, it would be pointless to pretend that all is going according to plan.
To be fair to England they haven’t, and there’s little doubt that has greatly contributed to the feeling that the tourists are about to face a trouncing.
But while it’s clear Root and Co. are some way off Plan A, all the Stokes saga has done is take the spotlight away from both England’s strength and Australia’s weakness — namely the tourists’ attack and hosts’ batting lineup.
Even without Stokes, as Ryan Harris says, England have bowlers that probably cannot wait to get stuck into the Australians. Apart from David Warner and Steve Smith, the Baggy Green batters don’t inspire much confidence. You don’t have to be editor of Wisden to work out that Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb and Matthew Wade are hardly in the same league as Hayden, Langer, Ponting, the Waugh twins and Gilchrist.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad are very good, shrewd bowlers and, while their form in Australia has been patchy, will fancy themselves to regularly make early inroads into the Australian lineup. Add in Chris Woakes as first-change bowler and Mooen Ali, who’s form as the side’s spinner was as good as ever this summer, and genuine reasons for optimism aren’t hard to find.
Harris was right when he said: “Both bowling attacks are world class…Bowling will dictate the series.” England will miss Stokes — which side wouldn’t? — but the tourists have the attack to get 20 wickets without him.
Australia are favorites, but as England found out four years ago, any overconfidence at this early stage could be badly misplaced.

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