Triple Ashes-winning former England captain Andrew Strauss predicts Australia will defy their doubters by putting up a huge fight in the coming series.
Strauss, who captained England's past two Ashes wins and played in another, is confident his nation can claim a third successive title on home soil in July-August.
But the retired batsman says talk from some fans and pundits of England whitewashing the five-Test series is far-fetched.
"I don't think it is going to be that clear-cut," Strauss told AAP on Wednesday.
"I think Australia are a bit better than people give them credit for at the moment.
"They lost heavily in India but they had quite a successful summer in Australia.
"They've got some good players, a good bowling attack which is crucial and Michael Clarke's been on fire.
"It's going to be a close series but in England in particular, with home advantage, England should be too strong."
Strauss pointed out England hardly set the world on fire in battling to a 0-0 draw in their recent three Test series in New Zealand.
But he said Australia would need more than a firing Michael Clarke to be competitive.
"Australia can't rely on him solely," the former opener said.
"Some of those other batsmen, some of the younger ones, are going to have to stand up and deliver.
"I always feel that if you want to win an Ashes series you need a strong contribution for one to eleven, so everyone needs to stand up."
The respected Strauss quit cricket last year following a 100-Test career.
He will compete in Sunday's's London Marathon with his Australian wife Ruth and is will join the Sky commentary team during the Ashes.