A is for Australia. See England, circa mid 1990s.
B is for Beer. Formerly used to help Australian Cricket team celebrate a victory, or keep hydrated on a long flight, or keep hydrated on a long trip to the lavatory. Now latest winner of selectorial lottery: his prize, an all-expenses paid trip to Perth and an “I’m The New Shane Warne” T-shirt signed by all the selectors (on short-term loan only).
C is for Catching. Barbaric practice, rife during the previous regime and before, now forbidden under Cricket Australia bylaws.
D is for Dropped. Thing that Aussie players are definitely, absolutely, certainly not ever. They are being rested. Even when they are fit. There’s nothing to see here. Move along.
E is for English Seamer, Ironically Charles He’s What I Like To Call A Typical. Fashionable description of Ben Hilfenhaus; presumably because they keep leaving him out after one bad game then bringing the poor bloke back and expecting miracles.
F is for Flying Club Airmiles. Ultimate goal of England Attack Leader Jimmy Anderson in getting wife pregnant during, one assumes, March, in the knowledge, one assumes, that baby takes nine months to come. Couldn’t you have waited, Andersons. Eh?
G is for Gazillion. Number of minutes batted by Alastair Cook at Brisbane and Adelaide.
H is for Hurley. Stalwart diversionary work from Agent Hurley has thwarted the enemy’s attempt to deploy their secret weapon.
I is for Injury. Astonishingly, the England touring party have only had one player ruled out for injury so far this Ashes series. No wonder Australia are finding it a bit tougher than usual. Presumably Perth will see the traditional round of twanged hamstrings, poppadomed fingers, heat-stroke, massive total nervous breakdowns etc.
J is for Johannesburg. Suggested scouting location as Australia begin their search for new blood.
K is for Katto. Batsman so inelegant that even being unable to walk did not noticeably worsen his aesthetic appeal at the crease. Sadly missed.
L is for Leadership. Which is what the Leadership Group need to be showing, or there will be a change of Leadership. Fortunately for Leader Ricky Ponting, there are a lot of Leaders in this team. They’re just leading it to disaster.
M is for Momentum. Much-discussed entity currently firmly in the possession of England. The last time England had this in an Ashes series (Headingley 2009) they got absolutely murdered. So the omens are good.
N is for New Caps. The busiest cog in the Cricket Australia machine.
O is for Opener. Between Shane Watson’s hit-and-giggle constant aggression and Phil Hughes’ Tweet-and-get-out skittishness, this is the first recorded instance of Australia naming a Test squad with no recognised openers.
P is for Papers. Perhaps even more enjoyable than England’s success has been the furious dismay of the Australian media. The sudden outpouring of bile wouldn’t have shamed the British tabloids at their most rabid, although some papers are now taking the standard next step: pretending that the series isn’t actually happening and relegating coverage to just below the darts and the yachting bits of the sports pages.
Q is for Queen. Was it further disparaging mention of Her Majesty that prompted The Greatest Living Englishman to take up the cudgels against the oldest foe, in the Battle Of The Carpark? One strongly hopes so.
R is for Rug. Follicular accoutrement of popular Australian seamer Douglas Bollinger; the Rug has been so impressive in training that it is rumoured to be in serious contention for a seam-bowling spot in its own right if Mitchell Johnson fails again. “The Rug offers an intelligence and consistency that has been lacking from our pace unit,” says chairman of selectors ‘Mad’ Andrew Hilditch.
S is for Steve Smith. At least Original Rubbish England tended only to select bits-and-pieces players for the one-day side. Surely it’s a bit much to do it in Tests as well?
T is for Tremlett. A quite good player whose stature has grown in absentia to the extent where nothing less than 10 wickets, a century and punching Watto in the eye can live up to it.
U is for Umpiring. Sadly, there are no longer two Australian umpires per Test. If England win at Perth as well, perhaps this could be reintroduced to even things up a bit?
V is for Vote of Confidence. Thing that Ricky may soon be getting.
W is for Warne. Briefly discussed as possible saviour of Australian cricket; although it turns out that he has, erm, had his hands full in other rewarding ways.
X if for Xavier. Great news for stattos, compilers of cricket encyclopaedias, etc. Just not for Aussie cricket fans. Or captains.
Y is for Youth. Soon to be trumpeted goal of Australian selection policy.
Z is for Zip. Thing that ball may or may do around Perth pitch. Either way, this will prompt ample commentator discussion of how things used to be there in the good old days when Dennis was bowling, and ball would travel at speed of light / over rood of stand behind keeper / batsmen would fall down cracks in pitch and never be seen again.
By Alan Tyers At least one Christmas gift sorted: W.G. Grace Ate My Pedalo, by Alan Tyers and Beach, published by Wisden www.wggraceatemypedalo.com Or follow Alan’s Tweets about The Ashes here, if that’s your bag twitter.com/alantyers
Read more on the Ashes:
Some thoughts on Perth prospects from Sam Collins
Australian have started to sound seriously crazy – Daniel Brigham
Ricky Ponting on the edge – John Stern
Lawrence Booth picks his Broad replacement
Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss on leadership
“Where is the leadership?” John Inverarity
Alex Bowden points the finger at Australia’s forgotten failure
John Stern sees a lot of England past in Australia present
How England got good by Sam Collins
Warne’s comeback and five Ashes myths by Jrod