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Gilchrist sees Ashes as open duel

By Fabian Cowdrey

Adam Gilchrist
Gilchrist made 96 consecutive Test appearances before retiring in 2008

Four years ago, when the Ashes were last contested on English soil, former Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist admitted he always had a feeling England were capable of upsetting the odds.

"I think I realised that on the first morning of the first test where Steve Harmison bowled an aggressive spell and hit Ricky Ponting in the head," the 37-year-old told BBC Radio Kent.

"Although we won that game pretty convincingly, I certainly felt that England had arrived. But I'll have to say I thought they had probably a year before that.

"In August of 2004 we played a Champions Trophy game against England at Edgbaston and Steve Harmison bowled like the wind. That's when I thought that if he and Flintoff got it right in Test matches, we were going to be in trouble."

And that is exactly what happened, as England came from behind to win the series 2-1.

But two years later, they suffered a humiliating 5-0 whitewash in Australia.

Now, in 2009, Australia are without the likes of Gilchrist, and his legendary team-mates - Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer.

So who are the favourites for the little urn this time?

It's so tight but I've got to go with Australia. If England were so dominant, I'd speak with my mind rather than my heart.

Adam Gilchrist

Gilchrist, who retired from cricket in 2008, thinks it will be too close to call.

"Australia did very well in South Africa so they'll have great confidence from that series," he said.

"England stumbled a bit in the West Indies but came back here and trounced them, and they do play these conditions very well.

"I'm really enthusiastic about the England bowling line-up.

"I think there's enough there to not only rely on and support Andrew Flintoff but actually be able to function well and successfully without him, so all the pressure isn't on just him anymore."

So if Harmison and Flintoff were the men to fear in 2005, who should Australia keep an close eye on this time?

"I think James Anderson seems to be really producing the goods," said Gilchrist.

"He's not the fastest ever, but he's generating some good pace, and he's actually swinging the ball around and that's what probably had greatest effect against us in 2005.

"There's the rise of Stuart Broad and of course in a batting sense Kevin Pietersen.

"It was in the Ashes in 2005 when he was introduced to the world of Test Cricket and what a good job he did. He's continued to go on and average 50 in 40 to 50 tests."

Gilchrist feels the sides are evenly matched and says picking a winner is tough to call. But he senses his home nation may just have the edge.

"It's so tight but I've got to go with Australia," he added.

"If England were so dominant, I'd speak with my mind rather than my heart. I'll go with my heart and say Australia."

Gilchrist holds the world record for Test dismissals with 414 from 96 consecutive Tests.

He made his Test debut in 1999, and scored 5,556 runs, taking 377 catches and made 37 stumpings.



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see also
Injured Watson stays with Aussies
24 Jun 09 |  Australia
Ashes still the pinnacle - Ponting
22 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England
Australia hit back against Sussex
24 Jun 09 |  Australia
Where next for Australia?
28 Jan 08 |  Australia
Gilchrist sets dismissals record
25 Jan 08 |  Cricket


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