Ashes tour diary: England tee off, Chris Silverwood rejoins the squad and mixed news for the Curran brothers

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

After holding on for a draw in the Fourth Test, England are in Hobart for the day-night series finale which begins on Friday.

Here, Standard Sport’s cricket correspondent Will Macpherson provides the latest instalment of his Australia tour diary...

Bumper crowd expected in Hobart

Locals reckon the Fifth Ashes Test will be “the biggest sporting event Tasmania has ever seen”. While Covid might limit things a little, crowds of more than 10,000 are expected on the first three days. Cricket Tasmania Chairman Andrew Gaggin said they could have “sold the game out twice” on Bellerive Oval’s Ashes debut.

“We’re here preparing for the biggest sporting event Tasmania has ever seen,” Tasmania’s Minister for Sport and Recreation Jane Howlett said on Tuesday.

Hobart is hosting the Test because of Perth’s brutal border controls, which led to a move after the series had started. Cricket Australia will be hoping the weather remains good, although the forecast is ropey.

Scotty Too Hotty?

The expectation in Australia is that the tumble Scott Boland had on the third day of the Fourth Test could keep him out in Hobart.

Boland went for a scan, which showed no significant damage to his side, but he had to play through the pain (and required painkillers).

Josh Hazlewood is out, but Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser have been waiting patiently since Adelaide. Mitchell Starc could be man of the series but, having played all four Tests so far, it is possible – but unlikely – that he could sit out, too.

Scott Boland (Getty Images)
Scott Boland (Getty Images)

England’s players view the challenge of Boland being the fact that through the air, the ball has remained gun barrel straight, before sharp movement either way thanks to his immaculate seam presentation.

This is the sort of challenge you would think they are used to facing, but he is proving too accurate, relentless and skilful for them. They will be relieved to see the back of him.

Return of Spoons

Chris Silverwood and his family finally rejoined the England squad on Tuesday evening in Hobart.

They have been in isolation in Melbourne since just after the MCG Test, with three of the five family members testing positive.

This, needless to say, is a big week for Silverwood.

Teeing off (not recklessly)

A large portion of the England squad went and played golf at the world famous course Barnbougle in northern Tasmania today. By all accounts, it was a very special experience.

England’s injured players generally steered clear, with Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes staying back, and Ben Stokes going but not playing.

It seems a good sign that Ollie Robinson, ruled out in Sydney with a shoulder injury, felt confident enough to play.

It’s been a washout

England Women – and their understudies in the A Team – have been in Canberra for a couple of days ahead of their whistlestop all-format Ashes series, and began training today.

In an ominous omen that provided uncomfortable reminders of their male counterparts’ dismal preparation for the Ashes, they trained in the rain.

Fortunately, there seemed to be plenty of smiles as they were put through fitness training in dreadful conditions.

One in, one out

Mixed news for Surrey and England’s Curran brothers.

While Tom has been ruled out for at least four months with a stress fracture of the back, Sam – well into his recovery from the same injury – is back batting in the nets and on a treadmill.

Fingers crossed for a full return for both players.

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