When the sports editor asked me for a piece to preview the Ashes my heart dropped. There has been so much hot air in the media, so much raking up of old incidents and generating new confrontation that I suspect most cricket followers like me would really like battle to commence, as it will this morning in the Swalec stadium.
The 2005 series has been replayed ad nauseam. I read somewhere that one reason Germany is so awesome in post-war international football is that once they win one tournament they get on with the next one whilst we English are still rooted in 1966. That is why we have a burgeoning sports memorabilia industry whereas there is much a lesser market for a signed jersey of Beckenbauer.
I thought I had a line on the age differential between the two teams. However even this was covered in a two hour preview on Radio 5 last night. Chris Rogers, the only Aussie to score a double century against the Australians at Lords, when he did so for Middlesex and Brad Haddin are both 37. Most of the team is over 30. We have our seniors too – Bell, Anderson, Cook, – but the core of the team and talent are in their mid-twenties notably Root and Stokes. The English team has a strong North-east character with possibly 7 players selected from Yorkshire and Durham.
For those that like a wager Steve Smith as leading Australian run-getter is attractive. Predicting the result is not easy. I do not think there will be a 5-0 or 4-0 whitewash but the Aussies clearly have the edge in the pace department. Traditionally England can never play 3 dominating sessions, there is usually some collapse. Rather naively I hope that the good sportsmanship and effervescent cricket that made the recent visit of New Zealand such a joy will continue but somehow I think confrontations splashed across the pages will still be the order of the day.