London: Australia's legendary fast bowler Glenn McGrath feels the forthcoming Ashes will be hard fought unlike common perception. McGrath feels the late appointment of his former team-mate Darren Lehmann as the coach could kick-start a change in fortunes for Australia.
"When I was playing, it was easy [to predict]. But now I find it tough to make a prediction. I'm a very loyal, parochial Australian and I can never say we're going to lose a series. So I'm going to say it'll be a good, tough series," McGrath was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
McGrath, who has tormented the English batting during his playing days, admitted that the retirement of some of the top Australian players has hit the team. "You look at that side and over the next two years we lost seven players. That's going to knock any team in a big way. But I wasn't aware of the extent they'd allowed things to slip until it all blew up in India in March.
"The way the 'homework' saga was handled was pretty poor. There was no way anything like that could have happened under Steve Waugh. There would have been no turning up late or not doing this or that. When you let that discipline slip, you're going to have big problems on the field. We had some big personalities but they really pulled together," he said.
McGrath was also shocked with the timing of sacking of Mickey Arthur as the coach in the aftermath of the team's poor show in the Champions Trophy. "I was surprised by the timing but the more I think about it the more positive it seems. Something had to happen because the way things were drifting, it would have gone from bad to worse. Arthur had a good record with South Africa but I wasn't overly impressed by the decision to appoint him. That's the parochial Aussie in me again," he said.
Having played with Lehmann, McGrath said his former team-mate can be more readily trusted. "I played quite a bit with Boof and he's pretty relaxed. But he's also old-school. He was a class player and he's done great things as a coach.
"I've talked to guys who've played under him at Queensland and in the IPL, and they all think he's great. Players warm to him and respect him and he brings out their best. That's what this team needs. I actually think Australia have got the players to perform pretty well and win back The Ashes - as long as the selectors have enough guts to pick the right team," he said.