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It wouldn’t be the Ashes without pre-series trash talk, would it?

NEW DELHI: You know The Ashes are about to be contested when cricketers from Australia and England start spewing words coated in aggression, over-confidence and, at times, +churlishness. The storied contest between the two oldest teams in the sport over the historic little urn has seen many captains and players from the two countries engage in pre-series hostility, and the antagonism being shown from the Australian camp, in particular, ahead of the first Test of the 2017 Ashes has already created a huge buzz.

ALSO READ: Australia out to ‘end careers’ in Ashes, says Lyon

Earlier this month, Australian opener David Warner said that he would “dig deep to get some hatred” for the England team ahead of the first Test starting November 23 in Brisbane, and that “as soon as you step on that line it’s war”. Asked about Warner’s statement, England fast bowler Stuart Broad brushed it aside by saying that he did not need to hate the Australians because the two teams were playing a sport, not engaging in war.

The latest pre-Ashes fire-starter has come from Australian offspinner Nathan Lyon, who claimed that England’s batsmen where frightened on their last tour of Australia in 2013-14 and that the current home team were in the mood to “end some careers”. Lyon’s biting comments to the touring English press that some England players were so intimidated by Mitchell Johnson’s thunderbolts that they wanted to fly back home have not gone down well with one of the players, the retired Matt Prior, who in a lengthy Twitter tirade stated that Lyon had “embarrassed” himself.

Former England captain Alastair Cook – one of five members from the English squad which was whitewashed 0-5 in the 2013-14 tour – has termed Lyon’s comments as “irrelevant” while reminding everyone that England have won four of the last five Ashes series. Cook duly appreciated the talent that Australia’s current pace attack featuring Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins possesses, but was quick to add: “There’s nothing we haven’t seen before in cricket. They’re not suddenly bowling 150 miles an hour. (They’ve) not got magic balls which start way outside the stumps and swing miles and stuff.”

ALSO READ: Cook dismisses ‘irrelevant’ Johnson talk ahead of Ashes

Over the years, many Ashes series have been cloaked in such trash talk. Ahead of that aforementioned 2013-14 series, former England batsman Kevin Pietersen had attempted to stoke the embers of the Ashes rivalry by labelling Australians as “convicts” in the lead-up to the Gabba opener. As it turned out, that Australia team, spearheaded by left-arm quick Johnson’s aggressive bowling, hammered England in each Test and Pietersen never played international cricket again.

In 2010-11, while still captaining Australia, Ricky Ponting openly questioned whether England had the batsmen to cope against the home fast bowlers, referencing an out-of-form Pietersen as a “big question mark” and wondering how Cook, “just holding on to his spot by the skin of his teeth”, would fare. At the end of the series, England had retained the Ashes and beaten Australia in Australia for the first time since 1986-87. Cook scored a record 766 runs at 127.66 and Pietersen averaged 60 in that tour.

And, ahead of that epic 2005 Ashes in England, fast bowler Matthew Hoggard had commented on how an ‘ageing’ Australian bowling attack would struggle. England did famously regain the little urn in that unforgettable summer, but not before Hoggard had his pre-series critics rammed down his throat at Lord’s where Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne smashed the home team in the first Test.

Source : timesofindia

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It wouldn’t be the Ashes without pre-series trash talk, would it?


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