CHENNAI: Cricket's oldest rivalry resumes with the Ashes next month. Former Australian cricketer and noted coach Mike Hussey believes Australia will have an edge in home conditions as some of the English players lack the experience of playing Down Under. In an exclusive chat with this daily, Hussey, who is enjoying the break with his family in Australia after successfully helping CSK bag the IPL crown, expects David Warner to fire with Jofra Archer missing the series. Excerpts:
How do you think The Ashes will be this time. Who has the edge?
Should be an interesting series, Australia at home should have the edge considering England have some players, who are haven't played in Australian conditions. No Jofra Archer is a big loss for England, however, getting Ben Stokes back is great for England and the series. Australia has had a compromised preparation and some controversy surrounding the team with Tim Paine standing down as captain. How much these factors will distract the team remains to be seen.
Australia have won the World Cup so will the momentum be with the team when they play against England?
Winning the World Cup will certainly give the team some confidence, however, T20 cricket is vastly different from Test cricket so I wouldn't read too much into it.
Warner was a revelation in the World Cup. Did the IPL snub propel him to get his mojo back? How will he perform in the Ashes?
Warner has been a great player for a long time and his IPL experience would have only made him work harder and be more motivated to perform. He generally plays well in Australian conditions, but I am looking forward to his battles with James Anderson and Stuart Broad. He will be happy Jofra isn't playing.
Steve Smith was not at his best in the World Cup. Test cricket is something that he likes a lot so how important will his performance be for Australia?
Smith is an important player for the team and I am sure he will be very determined in having a big series. He loves to shine on the big stage and it doesn't get much bigger than an Ashes series.
Will Tim Paine's resignation as captain have an impact on the series?
The Paine situation is a distraction the team did not want so close to the series, but I am sure the players will move on and give their best.
Ben Stokes is back so will it be a good contest. How do you rate him?
Stokes back for England is great for the series, it will be challenging for him especially after not playing for a long time, battling injury and mental health. It will not be easy for him to straight away strike form. He is a world class player and I would expect him to have an impact at some stage during the series.
Joe Root was in awesome form against India, do you think he will continue in the same vein or the law of averages will catch up with him?
Root has had an exceptional year and plays spin in English conditions very well. Australian conditions where there is more pace and bounce will be his biggest challenge. He has definitely improved his conversion of fifties into hundreds and will need to continue that trend in this series.
England does not have a settled batting order. Will that be an advantage for Australia?
It is a challenge for any overseas player coming to Australia for the first time and adapting to the conditions. I am sure they will be well prepared and give their best.
How do you rate Australia's attack? Who will be the key?
The Australian attack is very good, they work well as a team and don't care which one gets the rewards. Their performance will go a long way towards Australia winning or losing the series.
Fans are back in the stadium everywhere. Does it augur well for the game?
Yes definitely, fantastic to have the fans back, I am sure the players will thrive with the fans at the stadium.