The Ashes are back and it promises to be a hotly-anticipated series.

Australia won the previous series 4-0 in their own back yard, but England are unbeaten on home soil since 2001.

Predicting the outcome of the Ashes are Leader sports reporter Tom Norris - who plays for Hawarden Park in the North Wales Cricket League - and Adelaide-born journalist Patrick Glover who last year played for league champions Menai Bridge.

Ahead of Thursday's opening Test at Edgbaston, Patrick and Tom discuss how the Ashes will be won or lost, and for their prediction on who will get their hands on cricket's famous little urn...

Okay chaps, first up … it’s been a great summer of cricket so far (well, for one of us) with the 2019 World Cup, so excitement levels are already sky-high. Will this Ashes series produce even more magic?

Tom Norris: The Ashes is usually the greatest cricket event of any summer in England, but it will be hard to top the World Cup – and the final in particular.

England are riding high from their white ball performances, and you’ve got to hope that those involved in both squads can transfer that to the red ball.

Even if the cricket doesn’t live up to the World Cup in terms of magic, there will be plenty of eye-catching sub-plots off it the field.

Patrick Glover: It was a fantastic World Cup, for some more than others, with one of the best games in the history of cricket to round off the tournament.

So it is going to be hard to top that World Cup final but there is always some magic Ashes moments in each series and I think with the return of Warner, Smith and Bancroft to the fray it is going to add some extra flare and meaning to this series.

Can World Cup momentum carry England or has there been too little ‘red-ball’ practice before the first Test? And for Australia, they seem to have left no stone unturned in their preparations? Will all this make any difference when the first ball is bowled?

PG: While the World Cup will obviously help a little bit I don't think it will give England any more momentum than Australia and that was clear by the practice match England played against Ireland last week when they were bowled out for under 90 before lunch on the first day. 

Australia are desperate to win the Ashes in the UK for the first time since 2001. They have tried something a little different in the lead up to the Ashes this year with an A squad touring England during the the World Cup - playing county sides in both one-dayers and tests - which has given some test players not in the World Cup some time in the middle in the lead up to the Ashes. 

But I guess we will have to wait and see how much of a difference this makes when the first ball is bowled.

The Leader:

Tom Norris, left, and Patrick Glover have shared their thoughts on the 2019 Ashes series

TN: That performance against Ireland has to have caused some concern. Tim Murtagh is a wholehearted and skilful bowler, but he’s not exactly in the Cummins and Hazelwood class.

Hopefully that has shown the need for improvements – and fast. I’d much rather they’d been bowled out for 85 against Ireland than the first Ashes Test.

It’s nice to see Australia sledging each other in the warm up rather than smashing around Leicestershire’s third XI.

It shows how much their recent run of results in England is bothering them, though, so Joe Root and his men need to be on their guard. Australia will be looking to fly out of the traps in Birmingham.

Some experts are expecting the pacemen to dominate – with less focus on the qualities of each team’s batsmen. So should we be expecting low totals and matches won in three days?​

TN: One look at the warm up games played by both sides would suggest the answer is yes. But, in England’s defence, that Lord’s wicket was a green seamer and the weather looked prime for bowling. I won’t defend the Australian side, because, well, what’s the point?

Both teams will have got disappointing scores out of their system. England know they can play better than that in these conditions, so hopefully they knuckle down and show what they are really capable of.

The Aussies struggle against the moving ball, and I don’t know how easy that is to fix in one warm up game between yourselves. Steve Smith has shown his class pretty much everywhere he’s been, but other than that there are questions to be answered.

PG: If the Aussies intra-squad trial match and the Engalnd vs Ireland test last week is anything to go by then I think the pace bowlers are going to have a large role to play in this Ashes series.

The pace bowlers had the Dukes ball hooping around in both those games doing a lot of damage and I think the Ashes will be no different. 

The Dukes ball has always done a lot on UK pitches in the past and in recent times I believe has been the part the Aussies have struggled the most with. Hopefully, by using the Dukes ball in their state leagues back in Australia their batters have become accustomed to the swinging Dukes ball and can counter that.

On the other side of it, Australia have arguably the best pace bowling attack in the world so hopefully they can use the likes of Starc, Cummins and Pattinson to their advantage. 

Where on the 0-10 dial will the boo-ometer be for Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft? And are we likely to see more spiky exchanges on the pitch after a toning down between players in recent years?

TN: I imagine the sandpaper trio won’t be getting a warm welcome from Edgbaston. I will be there for the first two days and full expect plenty to be getting thrown their way.

I expect you will get a different answer from Patrick, but you can’t tell me that any England players doing something similar wouldn’t be getting reminded of it.

Anyway, the booing will have quietened down by the time we’ve clinched the series.

As for the second part. I’m not sure some of those Australian players can help themselves. Nathan Lyon always has something to say, while I still don’t buy David Warner being a reformed character. England will expect plenty of verbal jousting and give it back.

PG: If the World Cup is anything to go by I think the boo-ometer is going to be at least at 10 if not higher, especially with the Barmy Army involved. I'm sure they have been working on a number of ball tampering tunes to bring out during the Ashes. 

But I don't think there will be as many heated exchanges on the pitch compared to previous series, well at least from the Aussies side of thongs.

The Australians have been playing with a more reserved approach since the incident in March last year, but this may well be the series where they get some of their on-field grunt back. 

But I think it is time for the booing to stop now. What they did was wrong, yes, but Warner and Smith, are two of the best players in the game, lets just focus on the cricket now and leave the past in the past.

Which one player is going to make the difference in the series … and who will surprise us?​

PG: David Warner. Coming off some brilliant form in the World Cup after a year out of the game, the opener looks to be in some good form.

I think the boos from the crowd will also work to his advantage and drive him even more to make big scores. We all know what a destructive player he can be and I think he is in for a big Ashes series. 

As for someone who will surprise us - James Pattinson. The Aussie quick has spent some time out of the test team over the past few years due to injury, but now back in the squad he is looking fit and ready to terrorise some batsman. With the new Dukes ball on the UK decks, English Batsmen beware. 

TN: Ben Stokes. Some of his World Cup innings were very mature and the way he seemed to be playing looked like it was transferable to the longer form.

He’s a gun fielder and wicket-taking bowler, so if his batting fires – and he’s going to be coming in at six, which is ideal – he’s set for a huge series.

As for a surprise, Joe Denly might be the man to make a mark. Now he’s dropped down to four he’s been afforded a little protection. Time is running out for him, and he knows it. He’s got obvious ability, and hopefully he can score big runs.

James Pattinson seems to be getting the Australia vote, other than that it’s Jason Roy or Jofra Archer, but neither would be a surprise having seen them this summer! 

Go on then, give us a series prediction…​

TN: 2-1 England. There is bound to be some wet weather about that spoils one or two Tests, but England have enough quality to extent Australia’s wait for joy over here by a few more years.

PG: It's going to be a close series but I am predicting Australia to claim the Ashes on English soil for the first time in 18 years with a 3-1 result. Go Aussies!