Ashes tour diary: Starc’s stark riposte, one-legged batting practice and a little ditty for Khawaja

Ashes tour diary: Starc’s stark riposte, one-legged batting practice and a little ditty for Khawaja

There has been some suggestion that it might be Mitchell Starc’s turn for a rest. He is a strong candidate for man of the series and is the only one of Australia’s battery of quicks – do not, under any circumstances, indulge them with the word “cartel” – to have played all four Tests.

“I hope not. It’s a pink ball game,” said Starc when asked if he fancied a break. He has 52 wickets at 18 in nine day-night Tests.

“I’m feeling good, obviously have had a couple days to get ready for the Test match. We’ve got training tonight and I’m hopeful it’s not my turn to rest.”

That’s that, then.

Sing it loud

Legendary Aussie singer Paul Kelly has written a song about Usman Khawaja, and his twin tons in Sydney.

The song, which lasts more than three minutes, opens: “Khawaja loved the game of cricket since he was a boy. With his good friend Davey [Warner], it was their pride and joy.

“Khawaja, took the train down to the SCG. He said Dave we’ll play there one day you and me”.

Kelly said: “I’ve been in a cave of cricket these past few weeks. Somehow the ghost of Hank Williams snuck in there, too, though I suspect he would have been more inclined to baseball. Came blinking into the light with this. Usman, meet Hank. Hank, meet Usman.”

Khawaja was chuffed, posting on social media: “An Australian legend. What an honour. Thanks Paul Kelly. Love the song, and the shirt.”

Check out the song here:

Leg up

Spotted at England training in Hobart today: the return of one-legged batting practice.

Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed were seen doing it before the Melbourne Test, but this time it was Zak Crawley. Ant Botha, the coach whose idea it is, was sending him throw downs.

Signing off

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Before Joe Root began his press conference in Hobart on Wednesday, he gathered reporters round to present a parting gift to John Etheridge, The Sun’s legendary, long-serving Cricket correspondent, who is on the last of his nine Ashes tours of Australia.

Root gave Etheridge his playing shirt from the Fourth Test in Sydney, signed with a message of congratulations on 28 years in the job. Etheridge was also presented with two gifts last week by the SCG Trust: a bottle of wine, and a small square of turf from the famous ground.

King is queen

Australia have named their squad for the Women’s Ashes. The big talking point is the selection of one legspinner, Alana King, over another, Amanda-Jade Wellington in the absence of the injured Georgia Wareham.

Wellington expressed her disappointment on social media, but will remain in the mix as she’s part of the Australia A squad to play their English counterparts.

Australia squad: Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Meg Lanning (capt), Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck

The show goes on

Tom Banton (Getty Images)
Tom Banton (Getty Images)

England will be playing cricket again just five days after this series ends, across the world in Barbados, where Eoin Morgan leads the side in five T20s.

With Sam Billings in Hobart, Tom Banton and Phil Salt are the candidates to keep wicket in the first game, before the Kent captain joins the squad.

Called up to cover Billings is Yorkshire’s Harry Brook, who has struggled badly in the Big Bash with Hobart Hurricanes. He has made 44 runs from 58 balls in seven innings, which is hardly glittering form when compared to other English players in the tournament.

Also joining the squad will be Anthony McGrath, the Championship and Blast winning Essex coach, as batting coach; Alan Richardson, of Worcestershire, as pace bowling coach; and Paul Tweddle as fielding and wicketkeeping coach. Tweddle is Somerset’s fielding coach, and this is his first involvement with England.