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Last Updated: Monday, 11 July, 2005, 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
Former skippers eye tense Ashes
Allan Border and Mike Gatting
Gatting (r) was the last England captain to hold the Ashes aloft
Australian legend Allan Border believes England have their best chance of claiming the Ashes since Mike Gatting's team won Down Under in 1986-87.

"We have had some great battles since but Australia have dominated," Border told BBC Radio Five Live.

"This series is a genuine contest, either side can win it.

"Australia are still favourites but England can put together a group of cricketers that can flip it over very quickly. We're all really excited."

Gatting admitted that he would have been content before now to have relinquished the honour of being the last England captain to hold the Ashes.

"I'd have very happily given it away in '89 and every year since," he said.

"We've had some great players since then but what we've lacked until now is a bowling attack that can take 20 wickets against a side as good as Australia."

Border agreed that the England attack of Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles is capable of unsettling the Australian batsmen in the Test series.

"I'm worried," he said. "They're a very good side, they have four very good seamers and I rate Giles very highly, I think he does a great job.

"The batting is probably the only question mark that I have, I don't know much about young Ian Bell, or even Andrew Strauss, but if they get that sorted there is a genuine chance they can get on top of Australia."

The match-ups suggest to me that over the five Tests Australia just come out on top
Allan Border

Border added that the series would have a major impact on the game as a whole.

"If you've got a strong England and a strong Australia, then globally the game is gong to be strong," he said.

With their premier seamer Glenn McGrath now 35 and Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie and Mike Kasprowicz the wrong side of 30, question marks have been raised over Australia's ability to stay at the top of world cricket.

Border, who resigned from his post as a selector in April after seven years in the role, believes that experience will prove decisive this summer.

"I don't think anyone is invincible," he said.

"The match-ups suggest to me that over the five Tests Australia just come out on top.

"I saw them in New Zealand recently and they were awesome.

"They look a bit rusty at the moment, whether they can get rid of that against a good England side...but I'm backing them in, although I've got a lot of time for this England side."




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