Ashes HQ ASHES HQ 2009

The More Things Change…

We’re less than a week away now, and despite personnel changes to both sides, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thommo’s come out and had a shot at Punter, labelling his captaincy as merde; panning Nathan Hauritz (“I don’t rate him”) and saying Bing Lee shouldn’t be in the XI for Cardiff. Cue Neil Harvey for a rant by week’s end, no doubt bagging the whole lot of the current crop as rubbish and mumbling something about 1948.

In another shock, Warney’s sledged Paul Collingwood, slating his T20 captaincy and noting “He was too busy trying to drive his Aston Martin and fly around in helicopters rather than working on his captaincy.” The irony of Warne criticising another for ostentation is the stuff of pure comic genius.

For their part, England’s salvos have been fired by none other than big Harmy, who noted Australia’s body language is different to the last time the two sides played. Given seven of the team he’s currently bowling to for the Lions didn’t play in 2006-07, this may be more a comment on the big fella’s powers of observation than on the state-of-mind of the tourists.

In on-field action, Phil Hughes got out to a short ball, causing some mouth-foaming from English commentators who are now certain he cannot handle the chin music. Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis are yet to comment.

In the week which saw Michael Jackson depart for an enigmatic 50, it was somehow appropriate that Mike Hussey shrugged off his year-long impersonation of a zombie from the “Thriller” clip to post an off-the-wall 140 odd not out (sorry). Sighs of relief could be heard from the Aussie dressing room even on the Sky TV coverage. Big Harmy brought back memories of ’05 with a hostile opening burst for the Lions – Aussie batsmen decribed his performance as “minty”.

Over at Edgbaston, England were warming up for Cardiff by playing with themselves, or at least with one of their own Counties. Alistair Cook shone for the hosts with 124 out of a disappointing 290 all-out. Of the other recognised batsmen, Strauss made 31 and Bopara 43.

In all, neither side will be completely happy with their days’ work. Given, however, both batting line-ups seem well settled, the real interest in these games will be in the efforts of the prospective bowlers on either side over the coming days.

In the meantime, we’ll have to amuse ourselves with the off-field musings of past greats.

The more the better I say.

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