David Saker won’t offer any insider information to Australia this winter, admitting his loyalties will be divided during the Ashes.
Saker mentored England’s pace attack over the past five years, but recently left the ECB to return home and coach Victoria.
Saker worked closely with James Anderson and Stuart Broad, but is now managing Victoria’s Sheffield Shield defence and plotting James Pattinson’s Test return.
It makes the upcoming showpiece series somewhat awkward.
“I’ll try not to barrack for anybody. I’ll sit on the fence,” Saker said in Melbourne on Tuesday.
“I’m a part of Australian cricket, of course, but I’ve got a lot of fond memories of being in the English team and I’ve got a lot of good friends in that (dressing) room.
“I’m going to be quite divided.”
Australia coach Darren Lehmann is yet to ask Saker for any tips on England’s attack.
“And to be fair, it wouldn’t sit that well with me. Just leaving after five great years with them, I don’t think I’d pass too much on,” Saker said.
Saker steered clear of making an Ashes prediction, but felt it would be decided by the ball.
In that regard, both sides are well placed for the “enthralling” series according to Saker.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad were largely ineffectual when Australia cruised to a 5-0 win in the 2013-14 Ashes.
Saker suggested it would be wrong for Australia’s batsmen to take too much confidence from the way they negotiated the new-ball pairing then.
“James Anderson is, in my opinion, as good a player as there is in the world,” he said.
“Stuart Broad, when the big games come along – and Australia is a big game – he seems to find something.
“In this (current) New Zealand Test series, I think they’ve done really well. I wouldn’t be writing those two off, that’s for sure.”
The same goes for England.
“Australia know that if they take their eye off the ball, England will jump all over them,” he said.
“At home, they’re a very hard team to beat. Over my years there, there was only one side that went there and beat them.”
Saker nominated Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris as Australia’s bowlers most likely to fire in English conditions.
“Ryan Harris is a big key for Australian cricket. His record is phenomenal, he puts the ball in an area that makes it really difficult,” he said.
Harris, Australia’s leading wicket-taker in their 2013 Ashes tour, is skipping the West Indies series but will link up with the squad in London.