Ashes January 23, 2010

Trading secrets with the enemy

The Ashes are 11 months away, but a buzz is gathering in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald looks at how over the past 10 years, about half of the players likely to represent England in the 2010 Ashes series have padded up for Australian club sides. Most were as good, if not better, at socialising than playing cricket. But they each had a good attitude, made plenty of friends and learnt a thing or two about playing cricket in Australia.

Pietersen joined the club [Sydney University CC] through connections with Greg Matthews. He played 14 games and, although he had not played for England yet, was dominant, scoring 785 runs at an average of 56. Club official and player James Rodgers said Pietersen was ''quite obviously a Test player of the future''.

As with most 18-year-olds, drama followed Cook during his time in Perth. The day before one game, he joined friends for a trip to Rottnest Island, fell off his bike and suffered a big gash to his leg. Rather than pull out of the game, he battled on and, batting at No.8, scored a few runs to help salvage a draw. A few days before his stint, he was snapped by a speed camera, but didn't pay the penalty. He received reminders for two years afterwards.

In the same newspaper David Sygall lines up the key players on either side and comes up with the verdict that the Australians have the edge in almost every department.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo