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Hype? What hype?


It’s never too soon to start thinking about the Ashes – some of us have been thinking of little else since the end of the 2005 series, and more pertinently, the ‘’Debacle Down Under’’ in 06/07.  A measure of our thinking is that, with the exception of a couple of 5th days, the whole series is sold out. Those of us lucky enough to have tickets had to be ready to purchase them last September – ten months before the event actually starts.

Of course, we’re all talking a good game in terms of dampening down the anticipation – ‘can’t obsess about the Australians too much until we’ve beaten the West Indies – and got through the 20/20 World Cup’ – and all that sort of guff, but deep down you know that everyone is counting down the days to the first test (58 if you’re interested!!)

It’s a sign of the power that the little three inch urn has over the average cricket fan.  In any other country, the prospect of the world’s greatest cricketers gathering together for the 20/20 World Cup would be dominating conversations everywhere.  For us, it’s more a case of ‘oh, yes – forgot about that’ – probably because we’ve got about as much chance of winning it as we have of seeing Elvis Presley winning the Derby on Shergar.

Here are a few quick bullet points – ‘short singles’ if you will, giving a flavour of what we’re thinking about –

    * Phil Hughes has scored about 3000 runs for Middlesex in his Ashes warm up tour around England – at an average of 752.65.  What on earth were Middlesex doing giving him this sort of chance to acclimatise?

    * ‘No Warne, no McGrath’ – we’ve all been chanting that mantra in our sleep, but the same sleep is interrupted as we wake up sweating with thoughts of how lethal Mitchell Johnson looked in South Africa, and how we’re all convinced that there’s some unknown blonde leg-break bowler hiding away – like there was back in 1993.

    * Cardiff!!  Cardiff??!!  It’s never hosted a test match, proved itself to be prone to flooding last summer – ‘like a sink without a plughole’ according to one of my Cardiff contacts, – and yet it’s been granted an Ashes Test as an alleged ‘favour’ to the last ECB Chairman.   It’s not even in England for heavens sake!!  Would Australia grant an Ashes Test match to Tasmania?  Thought not.

    * Then there’s Lords – the nearest thing international cricket has to a neutral venue outside Sharjah.  England hasn’t beaten Australia there since the aforementioned Tasmania was called ‘Van Diemens Land’.

    * Apart from that, it’s all a load of ‘ifs’ about batting, bowling, fielding and keeping– but really, it comes down to two of them. Firstly, if Freddie is fully fit, then we’ve got a chance of keeping the Australian batsmen honest and giving our spin attack enough advantage to bowl them out in the fourth innings. That depends on getting enough runs ourselves, and that’s only going to happen if KP, our one world-class batsman, scores over 600 runs in the series.

Piece of cake then!

(Click here to know more about Mark)

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