It`s oh so quiet….


The current Ashes series lacks chest hair. Just over a week out from the first Test, there have been no serious shots across the bow from either side. Instead, we see the English side taking a lovely weekend Belgium trip to touch each others` feelings whilst the prettiest pace bowling attack in Australian history struggles to bowl out Sussex`s 2nd XI. Craig McDermott, the archetypical angry red man, would be have been fired-up last year for this series. Instead, the most inflammatory comments we`ve seen from the Aussies emanates from (reputedly) the angriest player in the side, Peter Siddle;

“I`m pretty sure there`s going to be a little bit said on the field and Pietersen is a pretty confident lad, he likes to say a bit, so I`m sure there will be a few run-ins between us and him.

Tough words, Vicious. Maybe next you`d like to send Pietersen a letter telling him how angry you are with him?

Thank God (McGrath) Siddle is there, though. Australia looks likely to field a bowling attack of Johnson and Lee in the first Test of the series and had Shane Watson been fit, he`d be in the side too. The orgiastic jostling for position in front of mirrors before play would have ruptured the very fabric of the space-time continuum with the sheer overpowering force of its metrosexuality.

The lack of sledging has not gone unnoticed by others. Perennially incapable of truly retiring from the game, Shane Warne has taken it upon himself to not only slate the current English number 3 Ravi Bopara (fresh from three consecutive Test hundreds) but to actively push for the selection of players who are injured/past it (Vaughan) or are so new to the game, they`re bound to struggle (Adil Rashid).

On Bopara;

“Bopara is a good first-class cricketer, but he is not an international cricketer. I think he`s got all the talent in the world, but I just don`t think he`s got the temperament. He can be put off his game too easily and he`s too worried about how he looks.

“Let`s hope England aren`t relying on Bopara [for the Ashes] because they could be in trouble.”

Criticising another for being overly concerned about looks? Oh Warnie, you are the living end.

The conclusion to be drawn from such inaction? Neither side is truly sure how the series is going to pan out. So they`re worried about saying something which will be remembered down the years as a `grovel moment`. It`s a sad state of affairs because Australian players used to back themselves and the needle between players not only provided spice for the series but worked in putting the opposition off their game.

Sort yourselves out, Australia.


Excitement and Apprehension


Excitement mixed with apprehension. That seems to be the most accurate way to describe how I feel as the Ashes creeps up on us. I should qualify that statement by being honest about my agenda. I’m an England fan, and the fence is not something I sit on. To be honest, I don’t even know what it looks like.

See what makes me apprehensive is that I feel it is a summer too soon. I’ve spent two and a half years waiting for the Ashes but for all the excitement I don’t want to see England lose. What troubles me is that the lead-up to this has felt almost like the typical English build to an ODI World Cup – despite the intention of planning years in advance for this moment, the final decisions have been stumbled upon in the last few matches. Prior, Swann, Bopara.

Whenever I think of the 2005 Ashes, it always brings a moment from 2004 to mind for me. I was doing bar work and the boss was a huge cricket fan. You might remember 2004, England won Test matches like they were going out fashion and I did a shift one Sunday evening after a thoroughly convincing England win. I can’t remember which match, and it doesn’t matter. I said to the boss, “see the cricket?”

He laughed, and said, “just wait till next summer.” Who could blame him, pessimism is natural when you’re an English cricket fan. Those words always stuck with me, though, even I wasn’t smug enough to remind him of them when England won the Ashes. They remained in my mind as even though there was plenty of doubt amongst many, many Englishmen, our team was setting its stall out. Throughout 2004 and early 2005 England sent a message to Australia, a message that this time it would be different.

There has been no such message in the last twelve to eighteen months, not from England anyway. Most of the hope from these shores has been coming from the fact that the mighty Australia might not be so mighty anymore. But these thoughts are easily tempered by the fact that in Australia’s most recent series, they went to South Africa and won. It was meant to be the passing of the torch, but the Aussies won’t give up the top spot easily.

All things considered, though, the excitement is the overriding emotion. It’s an Ashes summer, Anderson is in the form of his life. Freddie is fit, and hit a 90-odd last week. Sure it was in a Twenty20, but runs are better than no runs. Pietersen averages over fifty against Australia. Stuart Broad gets better with every Test match. And most importantly of all, it’s been raining like hell lately. Hopefully the clouds are getting it out of their system.


A good day out at Hove for the Aussies


The Australians batted a lot better in the second innings of their tour match against Sussex with most batsmen getting much needed runs under their belts. Marcus North remains a slight concern and is yet to prove that he is anything other than a one-hit Test wonder.

The bowling dilemma hasn’t gotten much easier ahead of the first Test. Johnson and Siddle are certainties, but the remaining two spots are still up for grabs between Clark, Lee, Hilfenhaus and Hauritz. I’d personally go for Clark and Lee with Hilfenhaus slightly unlucky to miss out. I feel he’s a bit too much of a one trick pony, however he does keep it tight and can bowl long spells, so if he was selected it wouldn’t be a complete disaster.

Anyways, for those that missed the action, Sussex Cricket have kindly posted highlights from each day’s play on their website – click here to watch.


Comparing the Sides


With England announcing a 16-man training squad for the first test in Cardiff on Monday, it’s a good time to measure the teams up against each other. Not sure the Aussies will agree, but from here it looks like it could be a lot closer than some pundits are predicting…


A few predictions…..


It’s temping to believe that it’s all too early to make any serious predictions about the Ashes series based on one day of a tour match. And in the hands of lesser mortals, that would be the end of the matter. So, anyway, here are some predictions, feel free to throw them up at a later date and mock them when they all go pear-shaped. If, however, I turn out to be right……..


Ashes HQ Blog – An Introduction


Welcome to the first installment of Ashes HQ, a blog to capture the highs, lows, events and non-events which comprise an Ashes series. The series of 2005 was a fillip for Test cricket and the 2009 summer in England has fans and punters alike lining up for more of the same.

The blog is a collaborative, multi-national effort composed of esteemed members of the Cricket Web family; Zac Gelman and Cameron Burge (Australia), Martyn Corrin and Richard Dickinson (England), Will Quinn (Ireland) and yours truly, Corey Taylor also from Australia.

Over the course of the summer, you’ll be seeing the series through the eyes of the above contributors and we’ll be doing our best to provide balanced commentary but also some of the more off-the-wall happenings which occur in an Ashes summer. Whatever happens, hopefully Australia England cricket is the winner.


The first salvos


Shane Watson pulled up stiff after training in the lead-up to Australia’s first warm-up match of the tour. In other news, roses were declared to be red, violets blue and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was overheard muttering something about shaking sauce bottles.

Source: Foxsports muttering something about shaking sauce bottles.