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Panesar insists Australia have ‘bigger concerns’ than England ahead of Ashes


EXCLUSIVE: Former England spinner Monty Panesar believes Australia have a number of concerns to deal with ahead of the Ashes.

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Paine steps down as Australia Test captain over sexting scandal

Monty Panesar believes Australia have ‘bigger concerns’ than England heading into the first Ashes Test at The Gabba.

Australia have been forced to draft in a new wicketkeeper and captain for the series following Tim Paine’s resignation over a sexting scandal and they have not played a Test match in almost a year.

Speaking exclusively to Mirror Sport, Panesar said: “I think the bigger concern is with Australia. They’ve got a new captain coming in and they haven’t played any Test cricket [since losing to India at The Gabba in January].

“England have played nine Test matches since February, they’ve only won once but they’ve got game time under their belt. Australia haven’t got anything and they are going to be under extreme pressure.”

The Ashes is set to get underway on December 8 at The Gabba



Panesar also believes the current Australia side is a far cry from the one which dominated cricket for the best part of 20 years under the captaincy of Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting.

“They’ve got to live up to the expectations of the past and I think, over the last five to ten years, Australia have moved away from their reputation,” he said.

“When I first played the likes of Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer would look at you as if to say ‘You don’t deserve to be on the same field as us. You’re just a club cricketer.’

“I just don’t think this Australian team lives up to those expectations and they have that external pressure.

“You look at the England team and [there’s not the same pressure]. We won in Australia in 2010/11 [but that is the only away Ashes win since 1987].

“Jimmy Anderson had a brilliant series then and he’ll probably have another great series, with potentially two pink-ball Test matches.

“I think England are a better team with the pink ball than Australia are and with Australia having an unknown captain, I think England are favourites going into this series.”

When asked if the Paine scandal could unsettle Australia heading into the series, Panesar replied: “I think it would.

“It’s Pat Cummins’ first time captaining and we don’t really know what his captaincy style is.

Former England spinner Monty Panesar


Getty Images)

“Will he lean too much on Steve Smith and David Warner for big decisions or will he be able to make them himself? We don’t really know that.

“If I was Joe Root I would look to create that doubt, make the odd comments about his captaincy when he comes out to bat and just keep poking him.

“It’s the banter that cricket always has and I’m sure that could be a great strategy for the England team. Create some doubts in his thinking and his decision-making and cause a lot of upset in the Australian camp.”

Monty Panesar was speaking to the Mirror in conjunction with William Hill.

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