London:Losing in-form Brett Lee to injury is a big blow for Australia but in Shane Warne's books, Ricky Ponting and his men are still the favourites to win the Ashes.
Battling injuries and a lean patch, Lee had finally found his touch when a rib injury ruled him out of the first Test in Cardiff starting on Wednesday.
Warne had no doubt that it would upset Australia's game-plan to some extent but he also felt the visitors have the wherewithals to overcome the crisis.
"It's a big blow for Australia. He (Lee) was in my starting XI. Him and Mitchell Johnson with the new ball was quite exciting," Warne was quoted as saying in the Press Association.
"At 90mph-plus, with both swinging the ball, it was an exciting prospect for Australia. Brett had waited a long time to get back after being injured. But Australia are lucky because they have Stuart Clarke and Ben Hilfenhaus," he added. And that convinces Warne that Australia are still the favourites.
"Beating South Africa in South Africa is not that easy to do so for that group the transitional period is over. I think they'll do exceptionally well over here. Both sides' batting will be okay, the issues will be their starting XI and how to take 20 wickets," he said.
"There's not much to choose between them but if you had to put your house on someone you'd have to say Australia," Warne added.