July 29, 2009

Peter English on The Ashes, 2009

Dangerous warm-ups

Peter English

England are carrying a 13-man squad in Birmingham and those onlookers with sinister minds could wonder about the methods employed by some of the players during their warm-up games of football. On Monday Ian Bell, just returned to first-choice status, twisted his ankle and on Tuesday Graeme Swann rolled around on the ground grabbing a foot before hobbling back into play (Can anyone remember where Monty Panesar was at the time?).

Neither player suffered enough to be in doubt for the game, but Edgbaston is a ground with a history of late setbacks. It was here that Glenn McGrath stepped on a ball before the second Test in 2005, an event which helped change the course of Ashes history.

Andrew Strauss will consider toning down the football challenges in the lead-up to the game, although there shouldn’t be too much danger of anyone going outside today. It’s pouring so much at the moment I fear the conservatory will start leaking.

"It wasn't ideal [on Monday], but we've played football for a long time and had no injuries,” Strauss said. “We just have to make sure we don't hack each other too much."

Strauss has been good fun on the tour and has been happy to laugh at himself. His wife Ruth is Australian but he convinced us there were no testing conversations about country allegiance in their house. "I think I've successfully converted her, cricket wise," he said, quickly adding that she remained pro-Aussie in all other departments.

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Peter English is former Australasia editor of ESPNcricinfo

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