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  1. EDIT: Updated thread title. *straightens tie, coughs, waits for studio lights to come up* PLAY THEME MUSIC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY_3SGNRvMw Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cricket Lovely Cricket. You join us for the second leg in this year's Ashes one-two - England's tour of Australia. After an eventful home series in which both sides looked a bit scrappy, and dubious umpiring decisions stole the limelight more than once, what can we expect from the Australian tour? Have the teams, and the officials, learnt from their mistakes? England, of course, won that first leg 3-0, thanks to an indomitable performance from Ian Bell and fairly consistent excellence from Anderson, Swann and Broad. The Aussie cupboard wasn't entirely bare, with Ryan Harris outbowling everyone else in the series, but just not getting the backup he needed to keep the pressure up. The other problem for the Aussies was the fragility of their bowlers - such a problem, that one wonders if the reputation of Troy Cooley is going to undergo a negative re-evaluation in future. Starc, Pattinson and Bird were all afflicted with (suspected) stress fractures, Harris had hamstring problems towards the end of the tour. Of the quicks, only Peter Siddle, rumoured to be a golem constructed of tinned meat and coconut matting, made it through the tour without injury. Add to that the fact that Pat Cummins is still crocked, and Shane Watson limped off the field in India today, and the Aussies have to be worrying. No squad announced for Australia yet, but it sounds like Clarke will be fit, and like George W Bailey might have played his way into the team in the India runfest. For England, things look much better. Bresnan came down with a stress fracture during the last series, but is rumoured to be potentially ready to be flown into the squad if his recovery continues at its current pace. Cook also has a bad back, but should be fit. Monty Pee (can't wait for the bouncer jokes), who can probably be considered psychologically injured at this point, is also picked. A few interesting names in the England squad. Michael Carberry, who I remember being the Next Big Thing about five years ago, and has put in a good knock in the first (rather lame) warm up. Boyd Rankin, our latest stolen Irishman, who is a big thing, and I believe came over from Ireland via a causeway of some sort. Bairstow's grip on the #6 slot still doesn't look secure, with yet another Yorkshireman (c/o Harare) in the form of Gary Ballance competing for that place. Given as his England scores so far consist of a 2 ball duck followed by a golden quacker in the warm up, Bairstow may be feeling a bit better. Tremlett returns from injury, but I'd be surprised to see him make an impact (mind you, I was surprised last time). Ben Stokes (born right here in sunny Christchurch NZ), who I'm very eager to see play, joins as a potential all-rounder, filling the ginger Dunelmian slot left vacant since Collingwood's retirement, and is probably more of a threat to Bairstow's place. Two interesting names that aren't on the England list are Nick Compton, who we can presume forever discarded at this point, and Graham Onions, who despite dominating in the County Championship didn't get a call-up, and will be playing state cricket in South Africa. From my perspective, it looks like England see Onions as a like-for-like swap for Anderson, and if Jimmy gets injured I have no doubt Onions will be straight on the plane to Aussie, match fit and with plenty of competitive games under his belt. Schedule can be found here. Once again, Tasmania misses out on a test, but gets probably the best warm-up match. TMS will be doing live commentary for the next two warm-up matches, as well as the full test series. Two captains with bad backs competing to lift the lightest trophy in international sport is rather amusing. I think if it was the Stanley Cup, they'd both give up all hope.
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