London, Dec 7 : Former England spinner Monty Panesar believes that the Joe Root-led side is favourite to win the upcoming Ashes series against Australia.
England are due to open their Ashes campaign against Australia on Wednesday morning, with the first Test to be played at the Gabba in Brisbane.
The visiting side is bidding to win the Ashes Down Under for the first time since claiming the famous 3-1 victory in the 2010/11 edition.
"Everyone's talking about Australia, but I really think England are favourites to win the Ashes," Panesar told thecricketpaper.
"I think if we get some sort of play (in the first Test), which at the moment we just don't know with the forecast, as it appears the first four days could be a washout, then a draw would be like a win for England.
"If they go to Adelaide for the pink (ball second) Test, I think that's where England have the upper hand. England probably need to win that Test match to command their position on the tour and think that they are serious contenders to win this (series). I can see England winning the series, with the emergence of Ben Stokes being back in the team. Joe Root will want to taste that victory." "It's going to be a lot closer than you think, I think England will win the Ashes 2-1," Panesar added.
Panesar further believes that all-rounder Ben Stokes can have a major effect on the series.
"The Superman of cricket (Ben Stokes) is going to be absolutely crucial, all aspects of his persona. There's going to be times when he's not bowling and he's helping others. It's just his presence on the field, it makes a huge difference," he added.