Former captain Michael Vaughan believes England are “clear favourite” to win the upcoming Ashes because of ECB’s decision to revert to older Dukes ball. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last week decided not to use this summer’s batch of underwhelming Dukes cricket balls and revert to a batch from last year or 2017, which had a more pronounced seam. “I now have England as clear favourite to win the Ashes series but there is so much time between now and then that you don’t know who is going to be fit on both sides,” Sydney Morning Herald quoted Vaughan as saying.

Vaughan said the return of Steve Smith and David Warner and the potential Australian attack have bolstered Australia’s chances, but the change of ball could ultimately prove to be a telling blow for the visitors. “In English conditions, this ball was a massive thing for the (England) team. To use the Duke this year, it’s got no seam, it’s not been swinging around in county cricket, it comes down to real pace and spin and you would say if it comes down to a pace and spin contest, Australia probably has got the edge,” he said.

Vaughan, who led England to Ashes win in 2005, however, said the Australian team could prove to be very dangerous as they have the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson in their pace attack.

“I think the fact that they have the ball sorted will give him (Root) confidence but they will also know that this Australian team is very, very dangerous. They have got some pace, they have got some skill and, if the ball is moving around, you look at Pat Cummins, (Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, they have got enough in their armory to bowl England out and it’s (a case of whether) England get enough runs on the board, can the Aussies get enough runs on the board?

“That is exactly how the Ashes will be decided – which batting unit can cope and get enough runs on that scoreboard,” he added. The five-match Ashes Test series will begin from August 1.