Australia’s selectors have opted for a blend of youth and experience in their recently-announced squad for the 2013 Ashes. Here’s our exclusive Full Toss rundown of the the leading names who’ll be donning the baggy green in England this summer.
Zane Bradley The twenty-year-old opening bat and Ashes rookie will be an unfamiliar name to most observers on these shores, but has been fast-tracked to the Australian national side after a blockbuster start to his domestic career. “He made 19 and 7 for Queensland thirds last week”, said chairman of selectors John Inverarity, “and those are the kind of scores which really put him into contention. Zane is too exciting a talent to keep on the sidelines, and what’s more, he even has all of his own kit”.
Chris Journeyman At 52, the middle-order batsman is set to become one of Australia’s older test debutants, and owes his call-up to extensive experience of English conditions. Currently captain of the Red Lion pub side in Dartford, his impressive CV also includes spells with Dog And Duck CC in Beckenham and the Prince of Wales second XI in Bromley. Journeyman also regularly beats his son during games of Ashes 2009 on the Wii.
Michael Hairgel In a boost for Australian hopes, their captain will now be available for selection after successfully rescheduling his photoshoots for Esquire and GQ magazines around the Ashes fixtures, although he will miss the third test to undergo a new tattoo on his right arm. Meanwhile, the skipper remains undaunted by the prospect of having to score six batsmen’s worth of runs in every test match. “As long as I can make three centuries in each game”, Hairgel told a press conference, “we should have a chance”.
Brad Hasbeen “I was a bit surprised to be recalled and immediately made vice-captain”, commented the veteran wicket-keeper, “but it turns out I wasn’t the first choice. After Shane Watson stood down, they offered the job to Ian Healy and Rod Marsh, but neither were available to tour. Joan Rivers and Stephen Hawking both turned the job down, so then they offered the role to Keith Miller, who unfortunately turns out to be dead. So here I am”.
Patrick Pattinson The younger brother of Darren and James, Pattinson was selected on the grounds of his distinguished cricketing heritage. “We were a bit short of ideas, to be honest”, says John Inverarity, “so we rang up Mr and Mrs Pattinson to see whether they had any other sons, and as luck would have it Patrick was available for the tour. Many commentators have been sceptical about his relative youth, but in this day and age there’s no reason why an eleven-year-old can’t make the grade in international cricket”.
Peter Piddle The bustling Victorian seamer, 28, is full of confidence ahead of the Ashes after fine-tuning his bowling stratagems during the Australian domestic season. “I think that where I’ve come undone before against England is that I didn’t wear enough face-paint, and it wasn’t quite silly enough. There were times when you could see some of my actual skin, and the colours and layout were fairly sober. I reckon that by really upping the ante with the paint, the English batsmen will get distracted, and not notice that despite my ferocious, snarling, approach to the wicket, I’m only really bowling at 73 mph”.
Xavier Hope After so many disappointments since the retirement of Shane Warne, Australian supporters believe that in Hope they’ve finally unearthed a real-deal replacement as the team’s spin lynchpin. “I’ve got a lot of weapons in my armoury”, he says. “The doosra, the zooter, the tooter, the scooter, the Chinaman, Indianman, Ironman, the topspinner, flatspinner, er – and the one which doesn’t turn. I bowl a lot of those. I like to mix it up, so I also send down quite a few long hops, wides and full tosses. Maybe I’ll bowl medium pace as well. Or underarm. I’ll try anything once”.
Ryan Crock The potent but injury-prone seamer, one of Australia’s stronger performers in 2010/11, remains hopeful of playing a full part in the series despite his reputation for picking up niggles. “Critics wrote me off during the winter, when I broke my arm while brushing my teeth and then cracked seven ribs when ringing for a pizza. But I’ve fought back to full fitness and I’m raring to go”. Cricket Australia physios are leaving nothing to chance, however, even down to Crock’s travel arrangements. The bowler will undertake the flight from Australia encased in a full-body suit of bubble wrap; on arrival at Heathrow a team of engineers will gently winch him from the plane on to a six-foot-deep bed of goose down, to avoid the risk of him falling down the stairs.
Mitchell Blunt “We’ve had mixed results from selecting bowlers called Mitchell”, explains chair of selectors John Inverarity. “We’ve picked Mitchell Starc, who’s quite good, and, er, Mitchell Johnson. So we figure that by calling up this new Mitchell, there’s a precisely 50 per chance he might actually be able to propel the cricket ball in a straight line from one set of stumps to the other”.