Michael Vaughan today warned England will struggle once they lose Graeme Swann – because they lack X Factor replacements.
The former captain believes Swann – and star batsman Kevin Pietersen – bind the side and offer the spark.
Alastair Cook’s side touched down in Australia this week to begin their defence of the Ashes when the series starts next month.
Their 3-0 victory over the summer made it three straight series victories but Vaughan believes Australia pose a threat.
And he reckons England must be prepared to suffer once Swann, 34, retires.
“I think we’re pretty good in terms of honest, high-quality players, but I don’t know if we’ve got the real X Factor players waiting in the wings,” he said.
“When Swann retires they might have to go through a little bit of difficulty because he has gelled the side together for a few years.
“As soon as you lose someone as experienced as that – while I don’t think it’ll have the same effect as Warne retiring from Australia because he’s not at that level – it’ll have an effect because we haven’t got anyone to replace him. The same goes for KP.”