Sydney:Former Test opener Matthew Hayden said Sunday that Australia had the competitive edge over "sleepier" England ahead of this week's Ashes opener, but other former greats warned the side was thin on spin.
Hayden, who retired from Test cricket in 2009, said England's 10-wicket victory over Australia A last week would only make the home side hungrier to reclaim the Ashes.
"We burn when we don't win," said Hayden.
"We haven't got the Ashes and we want to go and get them -- that comes through immense pride and national spirit."
The Chennai Super Kings left-hander said there was no question Australia would be stinging from their recent slide down the Test rankings, but warned critics to "beware the wounded cricketer".
"You can't hide at the Gabba, and Australia will be keen," he said.
"They would have reformulated together as a unit, the speculation will be aside and it will be play on," added Hayden.
"That's the edge we have over England who have had a bit of a sleepier start to their tour."
But other veterans including Richie Benaud and former captain Ian Craig said England had the jump on a rattled Australian side ahead of Thursday's opening Test.
"At the moment the English are full of confidence and we're a bit down," said Craig, predicting a 2-1 win to the visitors. "It's a confidence game."
Craig said Australia lacked a "spin bowler of great quality", with neither omitted off-spinner Nathan Hauritz or his replacement Xavier Doherty up to Test standard.
Fellow former captain Neil Harvey said both had failed to impress and Doherty, 27, would be under intense pressure to perform.
"His first class performances have been worse than ordinary, so he's got a big job in front of him to try and take wickets," Harvey said, seeing a 3-1 win to Australia. "He'll have a tough job up there."
"Whoever bowls first will have a big advantage, and whoever wins that game could decide who wins the series."
Hayden said the first two hours were everything, setting "the whole competition up for the rest of the summer."
Benaud advised Hauritz to "go away and work harder", but spin legend Shane Warne slammed selectors for dropping the off-spinner from the 13-man squad.
"I think it's very very harsh on Hauritz, he deserved first crack at poms," Warne posted on microblogging site Twitter. "Got it wrong way around the selectors!"
Hauritz has played 17 Tests and taken 63 wickets at an average of almost 35. If Doherty is chosen to play in Thursday's match it will be his Test debut, while Smith, 21, has played in two Tests.
England regained the Ashes in last year's series, but have not won a series in Australia since Mike Gatting's team of 1986/87.