Former Australia captain Ian Chappell reckons England would need to leave a lasting impression in the first Test of the Ashes else Australia will have no difficulty in winning the series.
England and Australia will lock horns in five-match Ashes, beginning Wednesday at the Gabba, Brisbane. Chappell also said that Steve Smith as the vice-captain is a controversial choice.
"This is the hardest Ashes series to decipher. First, there are the controversies to be assessed on both sides; the Tim Paine crisis and the Azeem Rafiq Yorkshire debacle. Then, neither team has played much serious cricket in the build-up and therefore it's hard to equate the successors in each side," Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
"However, it's still the Ashes and one team will gain an advantage over the other. It seems that England has to quickly establish their credentials at the Gabba or they will be overrun by an Australian team in the ascendant. England have that opportunity in the first Test. There is an unknown quantity about the pitch, Ben Stokes is making his comeback as a full allrounder, and Pat Cummins is yet to establish his captaincy credentials," he added.
Pat Cummins was last week named Australian men's Test cricket team captain following the announcement of Tim Paine taking an indefinite break from all cricket.
"The last point is the most crucial for Australia. Cummins is the right choice as captain. He is by far the most inspirational cricketer in Australia. If a team-mate is not inspired by Cummins' heartfelt leadership, he's playing the wrong grade. However, Steven Smith as vice-captain is a controversial choice. How come Smith's leadership punishment carries a different weight to that of David Warner," said Chappell.
"Cheating is cheating and both players indulged in the crime at Newlands in 2018. That being the case, their punishments should be identical but they are not. I can only assume Smith received the lesser punishment, in terms of not being disbarred from the captaincy, because someone at Cricket Australia (CA) didn't like Warner. Like and dislike cannot be part of any selection dilemma and CA should have made a complete break from the past with a brand new leadership duo," he added.
Talking about England's chances in the series, Chappell said: "England need to establish authority quickly at the Gabba because the wicket may help them early on. If Stokes can then put himself in the mind of the Australians, this will undermine their confidence and may create some unwanted doubts in Cummins as a leader. Even if England don't win the first Test, they need to finish the game on top to head into the Adelaide day-night affair with a full head of steam."
"If, on the other hand, Australia win or at least establish authority in Brisbane, a shaky English outfit will struggle to regain a winning psychological advantage," he added.