Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Australia Not Clear Favourites - Billings; Cricket

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Australia Not Clear Favourites - Billings; Cricket

Article excerpt

SAM Billings "totally disagrees" with former England captain Michael Vaughan's opinion that Australia are clear favourites to win the Ashes.

England's 2005 Ashes-winning skipper said if Ben Stokes - who could miss out on the first Test owing to the fall-out from his arrest in September for actual bodily harm that left him with a broken finger - is not out there, the hosts would be favourites to take the series.

Billings, speaking at the opening of Rwanda's first national cricket stadium on the outskirts of the capital Kigali, would not comment on Stokes but said of the Ashes: "I think it is going to be a great contest. I think both teams are very close and (are) two highquality sides so I think it will be a very close series, actually.

"It will be small moments that will have a big impact on the series result."

When asked if Australia were "clear favourites" as Vaughan said recently while speaking as a BT Sport pundit, Billings, who was in the Central African country to play in a celebrity Twenty20 match as part of the inauguration celebrations said: "I totally disagree. …

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