The first (true) game of the summer

Bangladesh provided some early-summer entertainment, and 2 or 3 of their players showed enough potential for the doomsayers to be kept at bay for a few more years. Tomorrow, however, is what England and Australia will regard as the first game of the summer – the one that really matters.

Jonathan Agnew makes some interesting points:

It is quite outrageous that only English flags should have been waved by the guards of honour through which the players – including the Australians – are supposed to pass at the start of each innings.

Imagine how England would feel in Melbourne, for example, if they were required to emerge from the dressing rooms beneath a dozen fluttering Australian flags.

Their players would behave in exactly the same way as these Australians, I am sure, and avoid them.

I was under the impression the flags weren’t English (S.t. George) – I thought they were just Natwest-advertised flags, to commemorate their involvement within the game. If what he says is true, it’s understandable they should be a bit miffed. Derek Pringle, writing in The Telegraph yesterday, remarks on this apparent “dirty tricks campaign.”

Like his team-mates, Hayden made a point of going around the side of the children rather than through the tunnel of flags formed by them. Australia’s captain, Ricky Ponting, explained the move by saying that his team did not like having “things waved in our faces” as they ran on to the field. To that end, they have also asked for Sky’s mobile cameraman not to be so intrusive when they enter the field of play, a request that has just a whiff of paranoia about it.

No other side has complained in recent years (to my knowledge). And, unless I’m mistaken, isn’t the number of cameramen (mobile or otherwise) standard for International matches around the world? If Vaughan had complained about a similar situation happening in Australia, he’d have been stoned by now.

This “dirty tricks” campaign is a load of bollocks. There was even a suggestion on the radio that English tabloids are “seeking revenge” against their antipodean cousins who have “tormented” England in the past. What!? The more Australia find it irritating, and the more toys they throw out of their pram, the better their opponents will feel about things.

Back to tomorrow’s game (now there’s a bit of Irish for you – “back to tomorrow now then”).

Of course the result is paramount, but also of great interest must be the manner in which England stand up to Australia in an all or nothing situation because that will give us our first real suggestion of how they might fare in the Ashes.

It’s incredibly exciting but I don’t think we should necessarily take too much from of the game. There are, after all, 3 more bloody ODI matches after this – arguably, whoever wins those might then be able to take the momentum forward. The phoney war is well and truly over.

My key players

England: Pietersen (at 4), Vaughan (should open – but won’t), Harmison (obviously)

Australia: Ponting (needs a score), Gilchrist (needs a hundred), Gillespie (needs a wicket), McGrath (obviously)

I still don’t trust either team to defend a total, so my prediction is: whichever team bowls first will win.

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