Matthew Hoggard has turned up the heat ahead of the Ashes series by suggesting Australia's ageing bowlers may not have the ability to bowl England out twice in a Test match.

The 28-year-old, rather than assuming the role of underdog, believes the tourists' bowlers face the real examination this summer when play gets under way at Lord's tomorrow.

Australia have won the past eight series against England but Hoggard has confidence in his team-mates to exploit an opposition getting towards the end of their careers.

Hoggard said: "They're getting on a little bit. We've got back-to-back Test matches so it'll be interesting to see if they can put in the consistent performances for 25 days.

"It'll be interesting to see if they have the firepower to bowl us out twice."

Glenn McGrath, 35, is one dismissal away from taking 500 Test wickets but Hoggard questions whether his rival has the stamina for the entire series.

"It's going to be tough on the body. It'll be interesting to see if he is the world-class bowler he was and to see if Jason Gillespie can find some form, " said the Yorkshireman.

Gillespie has struggled for form in the NatWest one-day internationals earlier in the summer but, like the entire Australia squad, has never lost a Test series to England.

Hoggard also believes legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne is "not the force" he once was, despite the world's leading Test wicket-taker returning last year in fine form after a suspension for taking a banned substance.

"A lot of people think there are going to be a lot of draws this summer, especially on good wickets, and it'll be interesting to see if Shane Warne can reproduce some of his best," Hoggard said.

"He's getting on a bit as well and not the force he was. He's having to come around the wicket instead of bowling over the wicket - I think that is more of a defensive ploy than an attacking ploy."

This defensive ploy, however, picked ten wickets up for Warne against Sri Lanka in his first two Test matches after his ban, and he has impressed against India, New Zealand and Pakistan since.

England spinner Ashley Giles was more circumspect in his appraisal but believes his team- mates have improved together.

The Warwickshire all-rounder said: "This side has developed really well in the last two years, we've matured together and had a lot of success.

"We know how to win, we know what tight situations look like, we know what it's like to be successful and we know what it's like to have your backs up against the wall - we've been in all these situations and we've come out on top."

Giles, however, also believes the tourists' age is a factor, adding: "They're only human. They're getting on - and I think we can beat them."

Kevin Pietersen, meanwhile, warmed up for his eagerly- anticipated Test debut by urging supporters to break with Lord's tradition and provide loud support for England's Ashes challenge.

Unlike other Test venues in this country, many of which encourage chanting and fans attending in fancy dress, Lord's crowds tend to more conservative and are usually even-handed in their appreciation of both sides' performances.

That was certainly the case during the recent one-day matches between the two sides at Lord's which was in stark contrast to the partisan support at other grounds this summer.

But Pietersen, picked ahead of Graham Thorpe, has led the call for a more vocal style of support over the next five days as they attempt to become the first side to overcome Australia in a Lord's Test since 1934.

"It would be good for the crowds to get right behind the England team and absolutely nail them from ball one," said Pietersen.

"The Rose Bowl atmosphere was sensational. You go to Leeds and it's pretty good, The Oval was pretty good and Birmingham was too so I was surprised by the Lord's crowd, but you have all those members. You have people who understand everything about cricket, not just a dropped catch or a mis-field.

"It would be great if they could get behind us for the first ball and try and replicate what the Rose Bowl crowd did. The boys would really appreciate it - it would really pick them up."