Former Test captain Ricky Ponting has predicted a 2-1 Ashes series win for Australia, and suggested England may have trouble convincing the cricketing public that everything's hunky dory in their dressing room.
Ponting says Australia aren't going as badly as what their failed India tour would suggest and warned England may have to continue denying bad blood exists between players, if they stumble during the series.
Australian quicks Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson didn't train on Tuesday, suggesting they're certainties for the first Test and are being kept on ice.
Steven Finn is expected to fill the only spot up for grabs for England, however all eyes will be on controversial figure Kevin Pietersen in his return from injury.
England are adamant Pietersen has been welcomed back into the fold ahead of the Ashes, despite the ructions he caused last year when he sent negative texts about teammates to South African opponents.
Ponting said he had to deal with big egos fighting for attention in his dressing room when he was captain, but that any disagreements were kept private.
But he believes the fact that Pietersen's issues are out in the public means England risk a backlash if things go pear shaped.
"The difference is that whenever we had any issues they were kept in-house," Ponting said in an interview with The Daily Mail.
"The public might still wonder if something is going on in their dressing room."
England great Andrew Flintoff, who is predicting a 3-1 win for the home side, says Australia should forget about waiting for Pietersen to cause a division, and start being scared about what the champion batsman is capable of in this series.
"They won't admit it, but I guarantee the Aussies will be scared about what Kevin Pietersen can do to them this Ashes series," Flintoff wrote in The Sun.
"In KP we have the best player.
"He is a world-class batsman with 22 Test hundreds and who is ready to dominate this Ashes series."
Ponting said Australia came within a whisker of beating South Africa last summer, which would have propelled them into the No.1 seed in Test cricket.
He said Australia needed to be aggressive and have their batsmen stand up.
"I believe our blokes have just got to take them on," Ponting wrote.
"There's no point sitting back and waiting for the England bowlers to serve up rubbish because they won't do that. Our batsmen have to play with freedom and put pressure back on the England attack.
"This team will need five or six guys playing at their absolute best for the whole series if they're going to win. For me, that will be Clarke, Watson, maybe Chris Rogers or Ed Cowan."
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 10 July, 2013 3:03PM AEDT