Even as the Ashes ignites again
tonight in Birmingham, the mood of national euphoria that greeted the opening
Lord’s Test now seems but a distant
memory. No-one is laughing at the
arrogance of Glenn McGrath’s predicted 5-0 series whitewash and England
has the sorry prospect of an injured skipper already under the pump to prove his worth.

And just to boost the Poms’
feeling of insecurity on what could be a Warne
turner, writing in today’s Times, he’s threatening to produce his
latest “mystery ball”:

As far as my bowling
goes, I’m in good shape after working with Terry Jenner before Lord’s. The
shape, drift and spin were there. I’ve been fiddling with a few different grips
and I even sent down a new ball at Lord’s. I don’t think anybody spotted it, but
if I’m confident, I might give it another go here. Watch this space.

Warne the Wrecker is
also happily contemplating his part in helping inspire his Hampshire county
colleague Chris Tremlett to put Michael Vaughan on the injury list:

If a player from
Hampshire goes to a national squad, I try to stress the importance of impressing
his new captain. Chris Tremlett was the same as everybody else. I wished him
luck and suggested he bowl to Michael Vaughan in the nets at every opportunity –
and to bowl aggressively. Well, Chris has certainly made an impression this

But former England all-rounder
Derek Pringle holds out some hope of an unlikely home win by resorting to the
following history in the Daily Telegraph:

As Edgbaston is
England’s most successful Test match venue, the chances of a reversal against
Australia are higher there. Since the ground staged its first Test in 1902,
England have won exactly half of the 40 Tests they have played there, though 12
of those victories have come when it has been the opening Test of the series, a
time when opponents tend to be acclimatising.

Australia goes into the match with
an unchanged side – the latest weather forecast for
Birmingham is overcast and a
top of 18oC, but no rain.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey