Australia have fewer questions to answer than England in the Ashes

Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins walk off the field Getty Images

Yet another Ashes series is looming, a continuation of the long-running cricket rivalry between Australia and England but this time with a difference.

While this Ashes series will see five hard-fought Tests played again, they are crammed into just six weeks with an unusual July finish. This is physically and mentally demanding for all players but especially the faster bowlers. As the bulk of England's genuine pace bowlers are suffering injury, it is a schedule that favours Australia.

If, as expected, England bat ultra-aggressively, the question is whether they will continue to play in this manner if they experience failure. This is a fascinating proposition, because England will face fast bowlers who are difficult to attack if Australia are able to select their best trio.

A fully fit Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are accustomed to opposition batters wanting to attack. Their vast experience will place a lot of pressure on an English batting line-up that can be fragile, especially at the top of the order. If England collapse early, will they have the nerve to maintain their attacking philosophy?

Equally, if the English method pays dividends and they win convincingly, will Australia be tempted to retaliate? If England were to win a match or two convincingly, it would present Cummins, the Australia captain, with a big decision. It's unlikely he will be stampeded into a drastic change of tactics, but the possibility makes for an interesting encounter.

Australia play their best cricket when the team is purposefully aggressive. This policy worked spectacularly in the last Ashes series and over the long haul has proved superior to England's more conservative methods. However, Ben Stokes' attacking captaincy and England's drastic change of batting tactics in recent times adds drama to an already potentially spicy series.

If Australia hold their nerve, they have fewer questions to answer than England.

England's openers, Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, tend to be either brilliant or brittle. Facing a strong Australian pace attack, they are in danger of being the latter, which would place enormous pressure on Joe Root. Ollie Pope is a good player but if he is in early, it will benefit Australia.

Then there's Harry Brook. So far Brook has excelled in Test cricket but Australia could challenge him with some accurate short-pitched deliveries. The inclusion of Jonny Bairstow ahead of Ben Foakes as keeper is an indirect admission that England prefer an aggressor in the middle-order.

The concerns over Stokes' bowling are a major worry for England in view of the devastating loss of Jofra Archer's pace and skill. Without Archer, England will rely heavily on the fitness and speed of a willing but injury-prone Mark Wood, and possibly the inexperienced Josh Tongue.

An attack of Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ollie Robinson is viable in English conditions. However, age issues and a similarity of style among those three bowlers will encourage Australia to plan on playing long first innings against such an attack.

The Australian batting line-up has a more settled look than England's but it still relies on Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne to amass big scores. Travis Head, and to a lesser extent Usman Khawaja, have to establish their English credentials, while Cameron Green faces a tough test in the conditions.

The big unknown, and the player who, if he succeeds, could tip the balance in Australia's favour is David Warner. Despite his struggles in England in the past, Warner is a dangerous batter because of his tendency to score quickly. If he succeeds, Australia will be boosted but if Broad continues to have the edge over Warner, the series is wide open.

Nathan Lyon is a superior spin bowler to Jack Leach and if England are unable to dominate Lyon, he will provide excellent variety to Australia's powerful pace attack.

In normal circumstances the odds slightly favour an Australia series victory. However, this is not a normal Ashes and the fact that the Tests are crammed close together, plus England's desire to bat dynamically, make this a tantalising series.