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You’d be forgiven for thinking Australia already had one hand on the urn.

With the first Test of this winter’s Ashes already well under way in Brisbane, you’ll already have a better idea of how England might fare than I did when writing this week’s column.

But one thing is for certain – they’ll probably be doing far better than most Aussie pundits suggested.

The trash talking has been intense Down Under with many predicting a whitewash. It’s what happened last time the tourists visited in 2013-14.

‘While both countries are nowhere near as strong as they have been in recent years, all of the pressure is on Australia. They’re expected to see off England. Their public almost demands it’

Yet it seems foolish to dismiss a team that have won four out of the last five series. Hardly the record of underdogs is it?

However, that tag could really help Joe Root and his men as they prepare to defend the famous trophy they won in 2015.

While both countries are nowhere near as strong as they have been in recent years, all of the pressure is on Australia.

They’re expected to see off England. Their public almost demands it. And that expectation level has only grown since Ben Stokes decided to throw more punches than he does cricket balls outside a Bristol nightclub.

His absence – however long it may eventually be for – will really, really hurt the visitors. He’s world class.

Yet could it create another opportunity to increase England’s siege mentality?

They’ve been written off. The Aussies will be gunning for them. But that might not be a bad thing.

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