Boof R Us
Dave Podmore yields to nobody when it comes to defending a sportsman's right to monetise him or herself. He also yields to nobody where the M1 merges with the M6 just north of Rugby, but we'll get onto pre-match confidence-building and mental toughness later. To be fair, there isn't a guy on the planet who's more over the moon about the amount of cash to be made out of the Ashes than Pod.
The opportunities for cricketers have improved a shedload in recent times and I can give myself a massive pat on the back for that. I well up when I see a newly retired player cage fighting, planting broad beans on The One Show or cultivating a new thatch of hair harvested from the heads of eager volunteers in the third world. These are the working conditions I fought so hard to secure, and for which I was often criticised by the media and comedians from the VAT office.
Time was you'd play for Derby for 40-odd years, then open a sweet shop, where you'd see about the same number of people and dogs as you did when you were batting out time on a drizzly Tuesday evening at Chesterfield. Now you can reach millions - or certainly 32,000 as I did when I went on a BBC4 journey round the English counties in an authentic 1980s sponsored Peugeot.
So Pod's message to the current crop of young professionals as they fight for a socket for their XBox in the England dressing room is: think ahead. If I was Nick Compton I'd stop belly-aching about being dropped and go out and get myself a column in Asda Shopper, or a place on the subs' bench for Come Dine With Me. Personally I don't think Compo's ready for the Celebrity version yet - he needs to go back to Taunton and do a million local radio endorsements for garages and DIY suppliers to conquer his awkwardness. If he can do that, the sky's the limit. He might even get the nod for Brylcreem, like his granddad.
In terms of income-generation, I think this Ashes series is going to be a lot closer than all the so-called media people pontificating from their ivory towers think. Who's going to get the bigger slice of the cash mountain? I hope it's England but I'm afraid Pod doesn't have a crystal ball, though I do have a ball-shaped decanter with "Owzat" engraved on it, courtesy grateful Leicestershire members in 1986. All I can say is, these ten Tests are going to be nip and tuck (and probably a little bit of Botox too after so much wear and tear on the guys).
Make no mistake, the appointment of Darren Lehmann is going to make the Aussies a helluva lot more marketable than they were under Mickey Arthur. I had a quick couple of schooners of sherry with Boof in Yates' Wine Lodge in Nottingham's Market Square the other morning and it's clear to me that he's turned the team culture round. Shirts open to the navel, droopy moustaches, smoking, foul and abusive language - they're all back. The ad men are all rubbing their hands at the return of the Fair Dinkum Aussie. I heard Boof had even told two of the squad to stop waxing their chests or they'd find themselves on the next Qantas flight home with no free Wolf Blass.
Boof and me, we're cut from the same cloth - you could say it's a stretch fabric, resistant to fag burns and washable after you've spilt your lamb bhuna on it. And like me, Boof would never ask a young batsman to put his pants on his head and drink 132 tins of beer before running naked down a hotel corridor, jumping into a lift and spraying everyone with a fire extinguisher, not unless he was prepared to do so himself. It shows Boof's commitment - and one or two other things besides, such as his Rolf Harris tat, which he tried to have redrawn as Kylie last year.
Like Boof and His Royal Beefiness before me, I too am a proud upholder of my country's Ashes horseplay traditions. Though I'd better take this opportunity of scotching rumours about my impending knighthood. It's true I've just passed the eight million mark of retweets for charity fun-runs, but I have to hold my hand up and say that seven million of them were the same RT. I'd adjusted my driving position as a result of a woman trying to cut in front of me on the aforementioned section of the M1 and I accidentally sat on both my phones. She wasn't much of a looker by the way but what a scrapper!
It was a one-off social networking error, and Pod wants it to be known that I'm still available to put it there or thereabouts for England in a tweeting czar capacity.
Dave Podmore, holder of more giant cheques than any other cricketer, is the creation of Christopher Douglas, Nick Newman and Andrew Nickolds