As the classic Test series gets underway, let’s take a look at some of the questions the experts have neglected in the build-up, as England and Australia get ready to lock horns… or whatever the cricketing equivalent is.
Does Michael Clarke know a good chiropractor?
Well known for having a back as brittle as glass toffee, the Australian skipper would be wise to find a suitable clinic to deal with his long-term injury that is in danger of curtailing his career. Expect short balls from the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad to aggravate the problem.
Will David Gower appear interested?
Sky Sport’s cricket coverage has polarised many a fan. For some, its dedicated, comprehensive broadcasting has given punters an insight into the game never before seen. For others, its monopoly has only isolated cricket from the casual viewer by taking it away from terrestrial channels. One thing that is universally agreed though is that chief anchor David Gower, well known for his languid and aloof style of batting, has taken this approach to a new level when it comes to commentating and presenting. Rumour has it if you google ‘phoning it in’ he’s the top hit. What has resulted is a man seemingly so happy to pick up the cheque by being unmercifully half-arsed that it takes a chair on the foot to produce any form of interest or concern.
Who’s going to have the best celebratory dance?
The greatest leg-spinner of all time, Shane Warne, was the catalyst for this as his antics on the Trent Bridge balcony in 1997 was the perfect embodiment of a victory dance. Holding timbre both around the waistline and in his hands Warne gave a performance that riled Poms and delighted Convicts in equal measure and made sure an invite to compete on Strictly Come Dancing isn’t on the horizon. Another spinner, Graeme Swann, made sure to repay the gesture 13 years later as his self-styled ‘sprinkler’ was performed by the whole England team to the Barmy Army at the MCG after the Ashes were retained. No clear favourite for this year, but apparently Moeen Ali is a dab hand at the moonwalk.
How long until calls for Kevin Pietersen to return resurface?
If England win convincingly – stop sniggering – then absolutely none. But a loss in the first test, followed by another in the second, and with Gary Ballance and Ian Bell’s form on an extended holiday then chief Pietersen advocate Piers Morgan may well find himself in the rare position of having the support of the general public. Realistically though, KP will never play for England again. That’s not to say calls for his return will ever fall silent as long as he keeps playing domestically.
Eager anticipation here as to what exchange between opposition players will join the pantheon of legendary sledges. Current favourites include Glenn McGrath to Michael Atherton –
McGrath: “Athers, it would help if you got rid of that shit at the end of your bat.”
Atherton looks down at the bottom of his bat.
McGrath: “No mate, at the other end.”
Robin Smith to Merv Hughes:
Hughes: “You can’t fucking bat.”
Smith smacks Hughes for four.
Smith: “Hey Merv, we make a fine pair. I can’t fucking bat and you can’t fucking bowl.”
Can we expect the Stuart Broad approach to sportsmanship?
We’re all for sport being played in the right spirit but every so often a poor piece of gamesmanship can be just the moment needed to reignite the fuse of the oldest rivalry in sport. Broad’s refusal to walk in 2013 after clearing edging to slip led to a tirade abuse from the Aussie fielders and every armchair fan from Down Under wanting to throw it at the television. Only time will tell this year as the pressure cranks up.
Who’s got the best lookalike?
Steve Smith as a young Adrian Chiles, Ian Bell and the Shermanator from American Pie, Nasser Hussain and Vladimir Putin/Monty Burns… we could go on but who can claim to have the best doppelganger this series? Joe Root’s resemblance to US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is currently the favourite. Don’t believe us? Check it out for yourself.
Any smacks of desperation?
You only have to look back over the years at previous Ashes series to know whichever side struggles will select a player in a manner that is less ‘leftfield’ and more ‘left their sanity at home’. A recent example would be in 2010/11 when Michael Beer who made his Ashes debut for Australia after playing only five first-class games. He duly took one wicket for 112 runs. For England in 2001, Usman Afzaal’s six runs in his first of only three games, made Aussie skipper Steve Waugh’s earlier dismissal of his ability after seeing the unproven left-hander turn up to the ground in a loud sports car all the more embarrassing. Both sides seem a little more settled going into this series, but as the prying eyes of the media and public make rationality as predictable as a fifth day pitch, don’t be shocked by a surprise selection or two.
Hopefully! Cricket seems to be one of the few sports that still maintains a happy-go-lucky attitude amongst many of its players. Though this has waned a little over the last few years, with money, sponsorship and various cricket boards seemingly longing to impose sanctions being unsurprisingly the main culprits, we can hope for some hijinx on and off the pitch. Just a heads up gents, be imaginative. Look to David Gower (see, he could be fun sometimes) and John Morris nipping off in the middle of a game to an airstrip to pay a pilot to fly them over the Carrara Oval where the game was being played. And avoid being crude and violent… Various England players peeing on the pitch after a few too many celebratory beers and David Warner punching Joe Root in a bar are not the best ways to endear yourself.
Will Shane Watson avoid getting out LBW?
Don’t be ridiculous.