The Ashes are getting serious, trust me, I went to Lord’s the other day and I had to do everything short of a retina scan to get in.
I wasn’t invited yesterday; perhaps due to an altercation with Steve Waugh, and I missed Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff’s retirement.
It isn’t a proper retirement; it is more like a John Farnham kind of retirement. He is giving up Tests at the end of the Ashes, but will continue to play One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals for his country. Ricky Ponting thinks it might be distracting to the English team, like it was when Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath retired in the 20006/07 season and Australia won the next two Tests.
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Flintoff’s retirement finally got people to stop talking about “The Spirit of Cricket”; that artificial construct that no three people have ever agreed on. It’s lucky too, as Nathan Hauritz had already said Australia would have wasted time just the same. It could have gotten ugly.
The team selection is pretty simple for Australia; they have no injury concerns, and no real reason to make any changes (who would have thought that going in with Nathan Hauritz). England will drop Monty Panesar, and need to decide whether to bring in Graham Onions or Steve Harmison. The decision might be easier if Flintoff’s knee (one of the man reasons he is retiring from Test cricket at 31) keeps him out of the game.
Australia come in as favourite; not only did they almost take 20 wickets on a pitch you needed a crow bar to get one, but they haven’t lost at Lord’s since 1934. That is some record. With a history that strong it would be rude of England to win.
There is also rain. A fair bit of rain. And more is scheduled.
After the Test in Wales the English (and Welsh) public are really excited about the Test, not that many can see it. And with Freddie possibly playing his last Ashes Test there is bound to be more buzz than usual.
This should be a great Test, so you know what that means, rain.
Listen to or download the inaugural Crikey Sports Ashes Podcast, where Leigh Josey and Jarrod Kimber discuss the latest happenings from Lords.