Smith tips England to win Ashes 2009

Published: Thursday, January 8, 2009, 15:51 [IST]
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Smith tips England to win Ashes 2009

Sydney: Proteas captain Graeme Smith has declared England favourites for this year''s Ashes series in a parting shot at Australia's fading Test team.

Speaking after the conclusion of the third Test at the SCG, Smith predicted arch-enemy England would prove too strong for Australia when the fight for the Ashes resumes in England in July.

"I guess England," Smith said when asked who would win the Ashes.

"Playing at home probably gives them an advantage, I would think. Their conditions, England always seem to play better at home than they do away in my experiences. But obviously there is a lot of cricket to play before then," the Courier Mail quoted him, as saying.

Smith, the first captain to win a Test series on Australian soil since 1993, is hoping to inflict more pain on Australia when the return series begins in South Africa in six weeks.

"We are hoping to continue what we are doing," Smith said.

"In six weeks time it all starts again. We are one of the few teams that will have that opportunity (to beat Australia in back-to-back Test series)."

After beating Australia, India and England in away Test matches over the past 12 months, Smith said the Proteas could win against any side in the world. But he stopped short of declaring his all conquering team "the best in the world".

The opening batsmen said developing the next generation of Test players would ensure South Africa stay on top.

"The key for us is to develop the next tier of guys," Smith said.

"The 12 or 13 guys have played really well this year but if we get an injury we have to know the next guy is ready to fill in. But I think we are always going to be around. This Test side is strong, mature and relaxed."


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