Ding Dong! The Ashes are back. Excited? Well, you should be. Because the test match series between Australia and England that starts tomorrow, promises to deliver more of the same gut-wrenching levels of joy and despair that illuminated the summer of 2005.
This time round, the action takes place at the Gabba and the Wacca, rather than our own Lords and Oval, so we'll be relying even more on our friends in the media to keep us updated and in the know.
We felt it would be remiss of us not to catch up with our old friend Will Luke ( whose cricket blog, The Corridor of Uncertainty , for us, defines excellence), give him a slap and demand that he enlighten us on his thoughts....
It's good to catch up with you again, how are things?
Splendorama thanks. I happened to see John Reid by the Thames today. He's very small, but surprisingly loud.
Not interested. Looking forward to Thursday?
Is the Pope a German Catholic with a propensity for speaking in Latin, even at breakfast? I think he is! Yes, I cannot wait for Thursday - although I'm surprised and disappointed at the Londonist's near-total lack of cricket coverage for the millions of Londoners who want to find a dingy dive, and watch England capitulate at Brisbane. Pah.
Whatever. With all all the action being on the other side of the world, the vast majority of cricket fans won't be there in person and nor can they watch the action on terrestial tv. Where should our London readers go to catch the action?
Oh I see; passing the buck now are we? Well, in all seriousness, I'm not sure where they can go. There will be (surely) a few pubs dotted around the centre with late licences and a big screen; finding them could be trickier. We're trying to drum up a list at The Corridor so,
if any Londonists know of any cricket ale-houses, please leave a note.
You were one of the few people who held on to a little touch of positivity ahead of last summer's contest. How are you feeling this time round?
Less so. The usual, really. My heart says England, my brain says Australia. There are too many negative factors for England who, playing away from home, will probably come up short. However, all is not lost - well, it hasn't even started yet of course. A lot (everything) rests on Steve Harmison and whether he remembers to put his radar batteries on charge the night before. He could take 7 for 40 and win the Brisbane Test or, as I suspect, 1 for 80 from 18. The only certainty with Harmison is the uncertainty.
Londonist feels that Warne will me superb once again, but that McGrath might finally have passed the tipping point in the battle of class against the ravages of time. What do you make of our manifestly non-expert opinion?
Apart from the use of the pharse 'tipping point', for which you are excused (just), the logic is sound. McGrath is, in spite of his insistence that he (or others) might bowl well into their fourties, not getting any better. You don't improve much, if at all, beyond 33 or 34. He's still a
magnificent bowler but England no longer fear him. Warne, on the other hand, will take a few but not a bucket load like last summer.
Some quickfire questions....
Strauss or Freddie?
I'd have gone for Strauss but, oddly, I'm now pleased Flintoff is captain. Strauss's role should not be underestimated however.
Read or Jones?
Jones for this series, and someone new (Davies from Worcestershire, or James Foster) for next summer.
Monty, Gilo or both?
Monty every time. Gilo; lovely chap, terrific competitor, fine hands in the gully, but he can't hold a candle to the Montster.
Mahmood or Anderson?
Anderson. By a hair's width.
That's enough froth, let's get in-depth. Will we miss the tactical nous of skipper Vaughn, or will the raw charisma and ebulliance of Freddie carry us through? What does Brearley think?
No idea what Dr Brearley thinks. We'll miss Vaughan more for his handling of the team and his hard-nosed edge. I don't think Flintoff or Strauss are greatly inferior tactically...Vaughan just had the ability and guts to make slightly different, challenging moves, and he's as tough as nails. Freddie is a motivator, pulling his team along through sheer force of nature, and it remains to be seen whether this will be enough for an Ashes series in Australia. It's the biggest test
of any England cricketer, let alone a captain.
What do the Aussie public make of this England team?
They think we're crap.
How should Londonist go about stealing away Jessica from Liberty X away from KP? He clearly doesn't deserve her.
You should dress up in a baby costume, hand a note which says "My mate Will's a nice bloke; you should go out with him, here's his number" and then vomit on the pavement. She'll be instantly disgusted with your childish, foul behaviour, fall madly in love with me and
everyone's a winner. That doesn't actually answer your question though.
No, it doesn't. We were faintly amused though. Finally, will we win?
If Harmison fires up in at least two, ideally three of the first four Tests and Pietersen plays with the his natural (and absurd) cavalier madness then...we might. Remember: we only have to draw to retain little ernie.
Many thanks for your time Will, enjoy the series!
Pleasure. I must also add a quick tip for night-time reading during a rainy session or two. It's a book by Lawrence Booth called Arm Ball to Zooter. It's a really good read and worth the coppers: Arm Ball to Zooter