Here we go again…

Fear not, those of you suffering through the first gusts of the chilly England winter. You’ll soon be able to turn on your televisions and warm your hands on the hot Australian summer emanating from it. Or, even better, make yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate, get back under the covers, and put TMS on.

Now the world has got over the fact that a man who used to play cricket now no longer plays cricket, we can focus on some men actually playing cricket in a series which isn’t a glorified charity game for Sachin Tendulkar. So here’s a few thoughts from us:

1. It was always going to be interesting to see how the cricket-watching world felt going into this series on the back of the just-finished Ashes in England. Now it may just be because my second favourite sport, American football, is just hitting the exciting point of the season, but this Ashes series isn’t whetting the appetite quite as it perhaps should. Yes, there’s the inevitable bluster and pre-sledging from the Aussies (trying to rattle Jonathan Trott with mind-games seems like trying to knock down a brick wall with a feather duster), but it all feels like going through the motions. And the most irking thing about it is that actually this is shaping up to be a great series. Maybe when the players step out on the field, it’ll all come flooding back…

2. Australia’s great white hopes for this series seem to be made up of a batsman who has never played a Test match and a bowler who blows so hot-and-cold you could put him in a family car and use him as air conditioning, so long as you don’t mind unpredictable fluctuations in temperature and periods when it breaks down altogether. Now don’t get me wrong, Mitchell Johnson can be a great bowler – I’d be terrified of him if I came up against him on the one time in ten when he can aim in the right direction, but the other nine, I’d be more worried for third man. As for George Bailey, the recent evidence of Rohit Sharma suggests that ODI specialists can make the leap, but there’s no guarantee.

3. England may have Alastair Cook’s slightly dicky back to thank for the potential solution to their number six spot, which has troubled them for so long. It remains to be seen whether Michael Carberry to be the solution for years to come, but at worst it gives Joe Root a little more time to prepare his game for opening in future. As for Michael Clarke’s very dicky back, what do you reckon the odds are of Clarke, Ryan Harris, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson getting through all five Tests without one of them breaking down? Not sure there’s enough space next to Ray Winstone’s giant floating head to fit all the zeroes in…

4. This series has got all the hallmarks of being very, very close. England have serious question-marks around a surprising number of their players, Carberry’s debut, Cook’s back, Trott’s form against this attack last summer, KP’s knee, Prior’s calf, Broad’s mindset after all the rubbish about that edge, Swann’s form and who the hell is going to be the third seamer. Only Bell and Anderson are currently problem-free. Australia may still be in rebuilding mode but have the home advantage.

Having written all that, suddenly we can’t wait for it all to start…

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