Ashes 2009, a series too close to call, says Roebuck

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Sydney, July 4 (ANI): This year's Ashes series between Australia and England promises to be a ripper because the two sides possess both experience and freshness to deliver what is asked of them, feels noted cricket columnist Peter Roebuck.

According to Roebuck, the general verdict is that the series is too close to call.

"As a rule, the urn changes hands only after the challengers discover a few great cricketers and get up a head of steam, or the holders implode by way of poor captaincy, breakaway tours or low morale. None of these factors is completely in place so the likeliest outcome is for the Australians to retain the Ashes after a tight, though not titanic, tussle," feels Roebuck.

"While both sides have strengths and weaknesses that could be identified from Pluto. England have superior swing bowlers and spinners, Australia have a potent new-ball pair and a powerful batting line-up, all the more reason to predict a 2-2 draw," he adds.

Under the African stewardship of Andy Flower and Strauss, which swears by steadiness, focus, resolve and a scorn of ego, besides avoiding distractions, eschewing excuses, spurning stardom, condemning complaint, a combative and pragmatic England team is being forged.

Roebuck believes that both Strauss and Flower are the right men for the right jobs, having the required experience and maturity to convert England into a competitive unit on the field.

"Strauss and his think tank have also dared to pack their side with bowlers. Avoiding the sort of half-cricketers favoured by cautious types, they chosen five batsmen and relied on them and lusty lower-order men such as Stuart Broad to muster the required runs. It worked. The bowling is led by James Anderson, Broad, Swann, Flintoff, Onions and perhaps Ryan Sidebottom."

Australia, Roebuck says have more headaches than England but are also a slightly stronger side.

He believes the form of Captain Ponting and his deputy Clarke will be important. (ANI)

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