Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes
The Departure Lounge, Heathrow
The England team sit in contented silence, tweeting hilarious banter about each other's socks and their favourite types of soft fruit. Some of the more intellectual team members are playing Xbox. Stuart Broad is practising his death stare on a cardboard cutout display in Boots. Eventually he gives up, shaken.
"Impressive temperament from the cutout facsimile of a Boots shop girl there," mutters Broad to himself. He snaps and throws a travel adapter at it. It misses.
Andrew Strauss strides in.
"Right, chaps, I've done the old rousing press conference," says the skipper. "I've told the press boys that we are all in this Ashes mission together and we can't afford any passengers."
"Aw, no man," whines Paul Collingwood. "Are we going to have to pay for our own plane tickets? It's all right for these glamorous youngsters with their sponsorship millions. What about me? I've a wife and 14 bairns and Steve Harmison to support."
"I'm just glad that whatever else I have to worry about on the long flight, my hair will be looking incredible thanks to this amazing firming and volumising hair gel from my good friends at Brylcreem," says Kevin Pietersen. "Buy more British Lamb. It's un-baaalievably good."
"Jaguar cars, Guitar Hero, Findus Crispy Pancakes, The Great Smell Of Brut, National Express Coaches," agrees Jimmy Anderson.
"Right, now come on you chaps," says Strauss. "This constant plugging of your commercial activities must stop."
"Stop with total security even in the wet, with Pirelli tyres," says Pietersen.
"That's enough, Kevin. Now it's absolutely vital on this tour that we all put our hand up together and stand up at the right time."
"They don't like it if you do that," says Ian Bell. "The stewardesses. They say, 'Please sit down, sir' and you have to return to your seat even if you are really bursting for the toilet and you say, 'Oh, go on please' and they say, 'No' and you have to sit there for ages and you can't even enjoy the view of Disneyland Paris, which you can see out of the left-hand side of the aircraft, and--"
"Yes, I think you've perhaps slightly misunderstood my point, Belly. Now if we can all just concentrate for a minute. Does anyone require a vegetarian meal? Yes? One. What about a vegan? One. Gluten-free? One. Halal? Right. Hang on a second."
A powerfully built seam bowler shifted uncomfortably.
"Now, Bresnan," said Straussy. "Have you put your hand up for every single one of the meal options?"
"It's bloody miles to Australia," said Bresnan, sadly.
"Right, that's it," said Strauss. "You rabble are going in cattle class. Anyone who can behave themselves can come and sit in First with the grown-ups. Come on, Alastair."
Check out a free sneak peek of Alan Tyers and Beach's new book WG Grace Ate My Pedalo here. All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up (but you knew that already, didn't you?)
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