Normally, the opening to an Australian summer is the ACB Chairman’s XI, but thanks to the poor scheduling of this tour by the villains at Cricket Australia, the 2006/07 Ashes campaign starts with England playing the Prime Minister’s XI, at Canberra.
These games have a long history, where the Prime Minister of the day has an input into the selection of the side. Normally it is just a bit of a lark for the civil servants and the Prime Minister, and a good game for fringe tourists to make their case.
Meanwhile, Australia’s younger talent get a chance to strut their stuff.
It’s never been taken very seriously, but this year, it was not only broadcast on Fox Sports, but the ABC radio team came out and covered the game.
This year’s PM’s XI certainly took dismantling England pretty seriously; after 50 overs, they ran up 5 for 347. English readers will be pleased to know that Flintoff bowled his ten overs and apart from one bad over was right on the money. The bad news was that Anderson was expensive and Mahmood was slaughtered. Both men have got lots of improving to do.
England’s batsmen will no doubt revive English spirits if they can chase that down. However, they will have the handicap of not getting quite so many long-hops, full tosses and half volleys as the Prime Minister’s batsmen received.