Dennis Lillee believes England's fast bowlers will be licking their lips at the prospect of rattling an ageing Australian top order. Lillee, who enjoyed playing against England's "Dad's Army" team of 1974-75, said Australia's senior batsmen could be the side's undoing during the Ashes series.
Justin Langer will be 36 when the first Test starts at the Gabba on November 23, while Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist will all be 35. Writing in his column in the West Australian, Lillee said he welcomed the chance to bowl against ageing England batsmen such as Colin Cowdrey, who played in 1974-75 at the age of 42.
"Over a period of time, as a fast bowler, you get to learn that a batsman's reflexes definitely get slower as he gets older," Lillee wrote. "Mark my word, the England pace attack, mentally buoyed and on faster Australian wickets, will this summer be at their absolute peak age-wise."
Lillee said batsmen found it harder to hide problems as they got older. "I'm not having a go at individuals, it's just that this is what happens," he said. "Australia have some great players but even the greatest players get tapped on the shoulder by Father Time at some stage. We've got to wonder if that time has arrived for some of them."
Lillee said Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey were at the peak of their powers, but the possible absence of Michael Clarke and Phil Jaques would hurt Australia. Although he expects Gilchrist to perform better than in last year's Ashes, he said if the visitors could contain his explosive batting it would greatly harm Australia's cause.
He said Langer was another to face a significant challenge, having not played a Test since being hit in the head by a Makhaya Ntini delivery in April. Lillee expressed grave doubts that the home side could live up to expectations. "It's worrying how Australia, after being outplayed in England, are going to turn things around with a decidedly older team," he wrote.