Swann backs 'world-class' England for Ashes triumph

Joe Root's England has the quality to retain the Ashes in Australia later this year, says former spinner Graeme Swann.

Swann was part of the England side that returned with the urn in 2011 after claiming a 3-1 series victory Down Under, and he scalped 15 wickets in the process.   -  Getty Images for Specsavers

Graeme Swann believes England has got the quality within its squad to claim Ashes victory in Australia later this year.

The former off-spinner was part of the England side that returned with the urn in 2011 after claiming a 3-1 series victory Down Under, Swann taking 15 wickets in the process.

It was England's first victory on Australian soil since 1987, but when it made the trip four years ago, it was comprehensively thrashed 5-0 – a series that saw Swann retire after the third Test.

England holds the Ashes after a 3-2 win in 2015, but it goes into the next edition of the rivalry with concerns over some of its batting order.

An opening partner for Alastair Cook, as well as numbers three and five are all positions yet to be nailed down with Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley and Dawid Malan the current incumbents.

While question marks remain, Swann is confident the rest of England's side is strong enough to challenge Steve Smith's men and come out victorious.

"I think they've got a good chance," Swann told Omnisport. "I think Australia will come out all guns blazing, they'll try to play an attacking form of cricket, England will be wise to play a similar one back at them. 

"We've got some really attacking cricketers these days, attacking captain in [Joe] Root, the best attacking all-rounder in the world in Ben Stokes, Jimmy [James Anderson] and Broady [Stuart Broad], I think it could be very exciting.

"I'm not sure how it is going to pan out but I think it is going to be a closer series than people think, I hope it is because I'm getting sick of every team just walking their home series and not competing overseas."

And while some might be concerned about the chinks in England's armour, Swann believes its strengths outweighs its weaknesses.

"It has [to be a worry] but I'd rather focus on the bits we're very good at rather than the bits we're not," he added. "Australia will have weak links in their team as well, I just think it's important that whoever is going, we get them in early to say to them 'stop worrying about your place, stop worrying about your technique being analysed from the commentary boxes'.

"Get out there and score runs. Whoever's got the ability to stand up and ignore everyone tearing their technique apart, and say 'sod it, I'm going to score millions', they're the man for me.

"I think when you look through the England team now they have got four or five positions covered with absolute world-class performers.

"You've got Jimmy and Broady at the top, Ben Stokes as an all-rounder, Moeen Ali now as an all-rounder and Joe Root as a batsman - and not to mention Ali Cook, he's back in form now and is world-class.

"I think England are in a very good place, I think they need to be, they need to have all those performers to carry one or two positions that just aren't being filled at the minute. Numbers two, three and five I think are very much still up for grabs, I don't know the answer to that, we'll see."

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