Today sees the start of this summer’s Ashes series.
A couple of months ago, it seemed like the Australian side would hold a confident advantage over an England side that had just failed to win in the Caribbean.
However, with just a week to go, Luton-born former England spinner, Monty Panesar says that ‘right now, nobody knows’.
The reason for this is that since that tour of the Caribbean, England have played a wonderful series against New Zealand.
It may have finished in a draw but the English displays in that and the limited overs series that they won, means there is a confidence and belief that makes predicting the upcoming Ashes increasing ‘difficult’ for even a man with 50 Tests experience to call.
Speaking exclusively to News/Gazette while playing for local club Luton Town and Indians, Panesar believes one of the key things in the favour of England is the uniqueness of the home conditions.
He said: “England is the only place where when there is a bit of cloud cover it starts swinging, so at any given time during the Test, if there is cloud cover and hot conditions, the pitch changes.”
Under these specific conditions, Panesar thinks it is ‘impossible to predict’ who is the better side until the action actually gets under way this week, going as far as saying that the two sides respective results against the West Indies in the spring can be completely disregarded.
He continued: “If you compare, look at the result and the way England played and Australia played, then you would say that Australia are in a better position.
“But that is based on West Indian conditions, in England, conditions are so different.”
However, the series starts in Cardiff, where the pitch is usually distinctly different to those across the other test venues.
Naturally the most susceptible track to turn, the last time the Ashes started in the Welsh capital, England picked two spinners as Panesar played alongside Graeme Swann.
That was a match where Panesar ended up being the hero, albeit with the bat as he managed to defy the Aussie attack for the last 11 overs to save the game.
England have only picked one spinner, Moeen Ali, for their pre-series training camp with new coach Trevor Bayliss, whom Panesar has come across previous in Sydney grade cricket.
It is a decision that has come under criticism from various ex-players, including former captain Michael Vaughan, who reckons Adil Rashid should be involved.
One day, the 33-year old hopes he could be one of those spinners clamouring for selection.
For now though, he will be as enthralled as the rest of us.