WHEN it comes to the upcoming Ashes Series, Craig White is conflicted.
On one hand, White is a former English cricketer, who played 30 Tests and 51 one-day internationals for the Poms.
On the other hand, his brother-in-law is Australian coach Darren Lehmann.
"I've got to be careful what I say... I don't want to fall out with the brother-in-law," White said in Bendigo this week.
"I think England will retain the Ashes, but it will be a lot closer than it was in England (earlier this year).
"I think it will be an excellent series that could go either way, but England might just pip them.
"England has got world-class batters and world-class bowlers, and a number of them, whereas I don't think Australia has as many as England at the moment.
"But on their home patch, if they (Australia) get their wickets right it could be pretty close."
White has spent the past five weeks in Bendigo - the city he grew up in after moving to Australia in 1977 with his family from England, where he was born.
The 43-year-old's path to international cricket with England was kickstarted at Bendigo United, with White making a return to Harry Trott Oval on Thursday night at Redbacks' training.
"There's fantastic memories coming back down here," said White, who was the 1991 Bendigo Advertiser-WIN TV Sports Star of the Year winner.
"I spent a lot of time down here at the nets and playing out in the middle and this is basically where I learned to play cricket. I've got some fond memories of this place.
"I started playing with Bendigo United when I was about 11 and finished when I was 17 or 18 and went down to Melbourne.
"It was a fair stint here and some great memories."
From his humble beginnings in the juniors at Bendigo United and playing first XI for the Redbacks at the age of 14, White returned to England to play Country Cricket for Yorkshire, before making his Test debut against New Zealand at Nottingham in June, 1994.
In 30 Tests for England, the all-rounder scored 1052 runs at an average of 24.4 and took 59 wickets at an average of 37.6.
White's 51 one-day internationals yielded 568 runs at an average of 15.7 and 65 wickets at an average of 25.5.
"All I wanted to do was play Test Cricket and was lucky enough to play for England," White said.
"I had some tough times and I had some great times... that's just what you get with cricket.
"I made some great mates and have some great memories. I could have done better, I could have done a lot worse, but it wasn't bad for a boy from Bendigo."
The highlight of White's international career was his Test century against India at Ahmedabad when he crunched 121 in December, 2001, earning man-of-the-match honours.
White also achieved his goal of a Test five-for three times, with his best figures 5-32 against the West Indies at The Oval in August, 2000.
"All I wanted to do was get a Test hundred and a Test five-for, so I'd say they were the highlights of my career," White said.
While White is now retired, he still retains a strong involvement in the game as the bowling and assistant coach with County club Hampshire.