England all-rounder Moeen Ali believes the tourists do not deserve to labelled underdogs despite a troubled build-up to their Ashes defence, which begins later this month.
Australia are the bookmakers’ hot favourites to claim the urn Down Under but Moeen is predicting a close series that will be decided by mental fortitude.
“Man for man we are probably very similar. I think it’s whoever holds their nerve, and whoever really wants it as a batting unit will probably win the series,” he said.
“I think both teams have the same problems, so it’s going to be exciting. It all depends on who handles the pressure and which of your big players really turn up. Hopefully, it will be ours.”
England’s preparations have been hit by the absence of Test vice-captain Ben Stokes, who remains under investigation following a fight outside a Bristol nightclub in September.
But Trevor Bayliss’s team are due to welcome back Moeen, who missed the first two tour matches with a side strain, for their final warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI in Townsville on Wednesday.
“I am good,” he said. “I feel like I am ready to play and I can’t wait to spend time in the field. I can get a bit of game time in my system and then ready to play, hopefully, at The Gabba.”