I've just touched down in Australia and there's a lot of talk down here about how the upcoming Ashes series will be closer than the last one, which England won convincingly during the summer past.
Pundits and protagonists down here are certain that their home side can really take the game to Alastair Cook's tourists, but I can't see the Aussies having enough quality to win even a solitary test match.
England were in control all summer long during the last series, and what with the heroic British Lions series victory Down Under earlier this year and the recent victory for England's rugby side in the Autumn international at Twickenham, it's fair to say the Aussies have forgotten how to win; not only at cricket, but at sport full stop!
This could prove to be a nightmare series for Michael Clarke and his side. They're in a period of transition and have undoubtedly improved under the leadership of Darren Lehmann, but just as they're trying to rebuild they've been hit by a string of injuries. The home crowd are not used to losing down here and they won't be afraid to vent their frustrations should things start to go wrong.
Pre Ashes Banter
There's been a bit of pre-Ashes banter flying around in the media lately. I saw that Warney had been giving Alastair Cook a bit of stick for being a 'boring and negative captain'. Well, as far as I'm concerned, the Aussies have enough problems of their own right now, so they're probably best advised to focus on their own team.
My fellow Unibet Ambassador Merv Hughes has also been spouting off about their chances, but this just goes to show how scared they really are. On the flip side, I'm so confident of victory that I'll personally go to Merv's house and cook him a gourmet barbecue if Australia win this Ashes series!
Read more expert cricket opinion, as Unibet Australia ambassador, Merv Hughes, says Sir Ian has 'lost touch of reality.'
Series Score Prediction
Meanwhile, on the pitch, England are superior to Australia in almost every department. The quicker pitches in Australia will help the Aussie bowlers but will also serve to facilitate the batting skills of our top order. I still don't believe Australia's bowling attack are capable of taking 20 English wickets in a test match. All the while that is the case, we will not lose a single match.
Earlier this year, at the start of the Summer, Unibet asked me for my thoughts on the back to back series schedule ahead. Back then I tipped 5-0 at home and 5-0 away; a double whitewash, no less. Sure, it didnt turn out 5-0 at home, but that's only because bad light and a spot of rain saved the Aussies. With bright sunshine and long days ahead in Australia this time out, there will be no escape, and at odds of 34.00, backing 5-0 England is too good to ignore.
Top English Batsman
When it comes to batting prowess Down Under, Alastair Cook's record speaks for itself. The England skipper plundered 766 runs during the 2010-11 series and I expect him to lead the way again this time around at odds of 3.75. Any stick he gets from the Australians will be water off a duck's back to Cook, who has been a thorn in the side of Australia across a number of Ashes series and will continue in this vein again this winter.
Top English Bowler
James Anderson has emerged as a bona fide legend of English cricket in recent years, and I have no doubt he will go down in history as one of the great bowlers. He may now be the wrong side of 30 years of age, but Jimmy is still at the peak of his powers. He is to England what Glenn McGrath was to the great Australian side of the '90s - he can deliver the goods on all types of surface. It might be the obvious choice, but that's not to say that backing Anderson to be England's top series wicket taker at odds of 2.90 does not represent value. Barring injury, Anderson taking wickets is as close as you're going to get to a sure thing.
In conclusion, I am really looking forward to this series kicking off at the Gabba in Brisbane on 21st November. The Aussies never go down without a fight, so it will be a keenly contested series for sure, but it is up to Alastair Cook and co to make the most of the fact that we are facing an inferior team. It hasn't happened often in the history of this great event, so let's push on and rub their noses in it!
Best bet: England to win the series 5-0 at odds of 34.00.
Sir Ian Botham is an Ashes legend and a Unibet Armchair Expert. Read his betting tips on every Australia v England test match this winter exclusively here at bet.unibet.com.