Monday, November 27, 2006

Loving a good Ashes omen

I've arrived in Sydney, 49 hours after setting off on a nightmare journey from London. Can't complain and hopefully this will be the start of a memorable trip, which will take in four cities, Christmas and an almighty New Years Eve party.

The airport cabbie had a local Sydney station on this morning and the 7am weather news took in all of Australia's major cities, ending with London as "a paltry 14 degrees". Surely this wouldn't happen outside an Ashes series?

The station's London man came on next. Russian spies and Prince Harry both took preference over his thoughts on the Ashes, but it was worth the wait; dig out those 1955 Wisden's because the reporter consulted one himself and came out with a cracker.

The 1954/55 Ashes series started at Brisbane, where the home side racked up a familiar 600+ before England subsided with two low innings. Three months later, England had won the series 3-1.

During last summer, I somehow got the call-up to appear a couple of times on Sky News to talk about the Ashes. I was bricking it both times. The first one was a link up from its Westminster Studio and I was sparring against an Aussie journo who was with the presenters. It was quite trying too, as being told to look down the camera when replying to a question, while all the time trying to remember your key points, was pretty demanding in my book.

This took place the day before the final Test and I had researched a decent Oval omen - England racking up a huge 900 total to take the game away from Australia in 1938. Because of the elements, this was the only thing I could remember and, as a result, mates still take the piss for me saying 'good omens' about ten times over the course of the debate.