Let’s not muck around – this Ashes series will be decided by leather, not willow, and I’m not referring to Warnie’s weekend plans. Here’s who will bowl us to victory:

The starters

Glenn McGrath: Pigeon hasn’t played a Test since January. Will he still be able to cut it? Has McGrath lost his… oh screw it, you can get this cr-p in the newspapers. He’ll be great, and you know it.

Brett Lee: No longer obsessed with speed records, Lee is now his country’s strike bowler, so we can forgive him for that thing he does with his hair to hide that he’s balding at the front.

Shane Warne: He’s the master of leg-spin bowling, hair products and that orange tan stuff ladies put on to go to the races. With the flipper back in action, there’s an argument that he could play for another five years.

See also Shane Watson.

The contenders

Mitchell Johnson: Can certainly serve it up, and will almost certainly get his chance at some point this Ashes. Will be the first Australian Test player to wear a facial piercing, although I haven’t seen too many pictures of Victor Trumper.

Stuart Clark: When Australia was crying out for a quick last year, Stuart Clark was the only applicant who passed the interview stage. But with Pigeon fit and real competition from Tait and Johnson, Clark will have to wait to see if he gets the job.

Shaun Tait: This is where the selectors go if they want Brett Lee circa 2000 (i.e. a pace-crazy speed machine). But it’s his reverse swing, that magic trick that the English do much better than us, that will earn him a cap this season.

The bridesmaids

Stuart MacGill: The eternal bridesmaid, Magilla has developed a mastery of off-field spin that far eclipses his considerable skills on it. Upon hearing that Shane Warne could play for another five years, became an expert at wine.

Nathan Bracken: And the Most Improved Bowler award goes to … It used to annoy me that he wore his hair like the Paddlepop Lion, but the variations he has developed over the last couple of years are starting to grow on me.

Daniel Cullen: Spin-tern Cullen probably thinks he’s apprentice to Warnie, but it’s more likely he’ll inherit Stuart MacGill’s monogrammed drinks tray for the long wait until the Blond Master chucks it in.

Peter Fray

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