England outcast Kevin Pietersen has tipped Australia to win the Ashes and warned that the hosts will be “in trouble” if key men flop.
Battle begins at Cardiff on Wednesday and Pietersen, whose bid for a sensational recall more than a year after his axing ran aground, expects the tourists to retain the urn.
“I think it’ll be closer than we think, but I think Australia have the edge in certain areas,” he said.
“I’ve gone 2-1 to Australia. But English conditions are going to help England and the Aussies will be tested because the Dukes ball is totally different to the Kookaburra.”
He added: “[Joe] Root, [James] Anderson and [Alastair] Cook have to have amazing series. If they don’t we’re in trouble, whereas Australian have a lot of depth.”