With one-week-only apologies to non cricket-lovers and in honour of Ian Bell’s batting average versus Australia (rounded up, of course), 26 Ashes predictions…
In England batting order first…
1. Strauss to “look in good nick.”
2. Cook to “nibble outside off.”
3. Trott to “frustrate the bowlers.”
4. KP to “have a bit of a waft.”
5. Bell to “give it away when well set.”
6. Collingwood to “nurdle it to leg.”
7. Prior to “grow in stature behind the stumps.”
8. Broad to “exhibit a questionable temperament.”
9. Swann to “get some real grip.”
10. Anderson to “toil when it’s not swinging.”
11. Finn to “use his height.”
…& some other odds and ends…
12. Mitchell Johnson to explore both extreme ends of the competency scale.
13. Trott to contribute useful runs while failing to endear himself to a single member of the cricket watching public.
14. Marcus North to score the Series’ most annoying century – either to save Australia from certain defeat or else to steal an unlikely win.
15. England management and bowlers to implicitly blame the Kookaburra ball for bad performances while stressing “we can’t blame the ball.”
16. Ponting to play at least one innings that proves he’s the best player on either side – and many others that clearly show he’s well past it.
17. Cook to play well enough to stay in the team – but not quite well enough to help it much.
18. Hussey to suffer existential crises upon finally realizing he doesn’t deserve the nickname ‘Mr. Cricket’ – after another string of underwhelming efforts.
19. KP to win us all over again – by remembering he’s actually pretty good at this batting lark.
20. Katich to score approximately 350 runs more than his technique would suggest possible – seeming for all the world like he’s never held a bat before.
21. Freddy Flintoff’s ‘people’ to release Flintoff-related press release within five days either side of the first Test starting – incorporating a picture of Flintoff drinking Red Bull.
22. Peter Siddle’s face to make young children cry whenever he’s in plain sight with the sun out.
23. Boycott to use all of the following phrases at least once per test on TMS: “stick of rhubarb,” “corridor of uncertainty,” and “my mum could have caught that.”
24. Boycott to also assert his superior playing credentials over Agnew at every available opportunity – and Agnew to seem more and more liable to stab Boycott in the face as a result.
25. The writer of this blog to drift forlornly through the motions of everyday life between now and January 7 – refusing to process the brute fact of no Ashes coverage on TV.
26. Australia to be “pretty ordinary” just slightly more than England “have some positives to take” – urn to stay where it is, thank you very much.
Can’t fucking wait!