Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn."
… or so it is printed in tiny letters on a piece of paper cut from a magazine in 1882 and stuck haphazardly to the side of the most little brown jug in cricket. Yes, ladies and gentlemen... the Ashes are finally here. Huzzah.
Being English in Australia this will mean two certainties: continual sledging for at least a few months (and possibly another two years) from colleagues and so-called friends; and bleary-eyed mornings after a northern summer’s worth of late night sessions in front of the telly. What is not certain for once is who will win.
I shall ignore the rather stupid and rash news emerging from the UK press that England are the slight favourites following news of Brett Lee’s injury. This is partly because you can never ever, ever trust the Australians to lose when you want them to no matter how shoddy they play and how much you’d love it. Mostly though it’s because every time the multicoloured cowboy-themed weights of expectation are placed on the Buckaroo-like shoulders of British sport, they instantly flail under pressure, kick out their hind legs and drop the variously unattained trophies on the floor. Kind of.
Britain's Andy Murray in action at Wimbledon last week
So my hopes of an unlikely England victory will be resolutely kept in check until the whole damn thing is over. However, I’m already excited about the idea of seeing Ricky Ponting being caught, stumped or preferably bowled at least five times and hopefully ten over the coming weeks. For anyone who has forgotten the pleasures that brings, here are a few nice reminders:
As I know nothing about cricket, other than the fact that I like it a lot, I shall keep my online rantings to a minimum and draw my knowledge from the collective genii of Rob Smyth, Lawrence Booth and the rest of the Guardian’s fantastic obo team. For those who don’t like cricket, fear not. Mint Custard will continue to be as dedicated to this little Ern as any other…