Ashes 2013 July 9, 2013

England start as heavy favourites

ESPNcricinfo staff

With the Ashes just a day away, there's plenty of build-up in the papers. The Daily Mail has a cracking discussion featuring Ricky Ponting, Michael Holding, Nasser Hussain and David Lloyd, where they talk about who the key players will be, what surfaces should be like and give their predictions on the series result.

Lloyd: I worry that he's been out for a long time. In Test- match cricket you can't just switch it back on after four or five months away. It took him a long time to get back in rhythm after that achilles injury a few years ago. He might come back in but I'm not sure he'll be at his best straight away.

Hussain: He's been back scoring big runs for Surrey against Yorkshire.

Ponting: If I'd been fit to play I'd have run him out!

Holding: I'm a Pietersen fan. He's very important in this England team because he can dominate attacks. He might not be at his absolute best at the start of the series, but there are five Tests.

In the Daily Telegraph, Shane Warne, Michael Vaughan and Simon Hughes discuss Ashes overkill, the David Warner controversy, the importance of Shane Watson and Kevin Pietersen, among other Ashes talking points.

Shane Warne: I think now is Watto's best chance for Test cricket. He's a bit older and more mature. He's an unbelievable talent with the bat - so destructive.

Michael Vaughan: It's a shrewd move to bring him back to open as Watson has been one of the best batsmen against Anderson. He gets a good stride in and drives down the ground but can also pull off the front foot. Anderson bowls at his best when you sit in against him. Obviously, you can't be reckless because Jimmy's good, but you've got to be positive and Watson will be.

In the Guardian, Donald McRae interviews Jonathan Trott, who keeps his head while plenty of others are losing theirs in the Ashes hype.

Trott is a warmer man than his dour persona suggests. He also has a dry sense of humour and so, pressed on his ability to score heavily amid the Ashes hype, he shrugs in amusement and says: "I just see it as a cricket match. As if it was a club game, I just play it."

The BBC looks back at the very first tour of England by an Australian cricket team, in 1868 when a team of Aboriginal players visited, with the tour organisers "intent on capitalising on public curiosity regarding 'exotic races' following the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species".