London, June 16:
Pakistan’s veteran all-rounder Shahid Afridi has said England’s home ground advantage gives them an edge over Australia in the upcoming Ashes series, which starts in less than a month in Cardiff, England.
England have not lost to Australia on home soil in Ashes for 14 years and Afridi, who recently concluded a brief stint with English Twenty20 side Northamptonshire, said England’s bowlers will lift themselves in their own backyard.
“England will have advantage of playing in home conditions. Their bowlers know a thing or two about bowling in England. If you notice they have always bowled better in England as compared to other countries,” Afridi was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia (CA) on Monday.
“They may have struggled in the One-Day Internationals (ODI) lately (against New Zealand) but in Tests we can expect a good contest from them. I can’t pick one team as favourite to win the Ashes but I think England will have a slight advantage due to home conditions,” he said.
Australia completed a 2-0 series clean sweep against the West Indies last week, the same opponents England drew with 1-1 all in April and May.
England drew their most recent Test series 1-1 against New Zealand with questions surrounding England’s middle-order batting and bowling unit still largely unanswered.
Afridi also revealed the two Australians that have caused him the most grief over his 19-year international career are Glenn McGrath and Michael Clarke.
Afridi was dismissed five times in 25 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and once in Tests against McGrath.
“The bowler I always admired and found really tough was Glenn McGrath,” Afridi said.
“He is the sort of bowler you can’t hit blindly. He just does not give you a chance to hit. I don’t think I have seen a better new-ball bowler than him in my career.”
Afridi said as a bowler he finds current Test skipper Clarke the most difficult to dislodge.
“I think Michael Clarke was the best Australian batsman I bowled to. It is because his footwork against spin is extremely good,” 35-year-old Afridi said. (IANS)