Despite the fact that everyone’s been talking about this Ashes series since the day the last one finished, it’s sort of rushed up on us in the end. Probably because some of us have spent the last three weeks immersed in Animal Crossing on the 3DS, shunning human contact to instead hassle a raccoon to give us a bigger house into which to pile tat. While for many people this is a perfectly acceptable way to pass the time, it wasn’t good enough for Editor Steve. By using a clever combination of sweets, ropes and large cardboard boxes he was able to entrap himself four 51allout writers before releasing them into a large cage in the middle of the office.
He might have been hoping that we’d tear each other apart in a Hunger Games style but he was to be sadly disappointed, like that time he grew a beard and everyone laughed at him. Instead of getting all aggressive we just reached for the kettle (it’s where we keep our secret gin stash), poured ourselves a drink or two and began to talk about the Ashes, like the fine upstanding members of society that we are (except for Aussie Matt, which goes without saying).
Nichael Bluth: Good afternoon gentlemen. Let’s start with a nice easy question. What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Matt H: I don’t know, but I demand a shrubbery.
NB: On a slightly more relevant note, who is going to win the Ashes and why?
MH: England, but I don’t think it will be a complete and utter thrashing – Australia will be better and England less-consistent than expected. But England have more match-winners (and match-savers, if necessary).
James K: England, and it will be a complete and utter thrashing.
Matt Larnach: Australia. Because James is backing England. Honestly I think it will either be a draw or England will nick it 2-1 or something. Either way James will be wrong.
NB: It has to be England. Australia aren’t as bad as we’ve been lead to believe, nor England as good, but the gap between the two is still massive. England will just be far more consistent, whereas Australia will be all over the shop at times.
NB: What are you most looking forward to in the series?
ML: It being over. That and the opportunity to bore everyone to death with puns, after Jackson Bird inevitably ruffles a few feathers in the English nest after swooping in to grab a few early wickets.
MH: Mitchell Starc removing Alastair Cook first ball at Trent Bridge. How well Joe Root does as opener (but not the inevitable praise from the usual suspects in the media). A spectacularly comic run-out that dismisses Phil Hughes and injures Shane Watson.
JK: Ravi Bopara’s inevitable recall half way through the series and subsequent demolition job of Australia’s top order in a display of seam and swing bowling unseen since the days of FS Spofforth and friends.
NB: I’m just looking forward to the high quality banter that Australians generally provide on the Twitter.
NB: Can we have some predictions please: What will the score be? And who will be the men of the series?
MH: 3-1 sounds about right to me – one match to be rain-affected and one match in which England will collectively forget what those wooden things in their hands are for. Men of the series is a tough call: there could well be six or seven candidates for England but I’ll say Graeme Swann (even though his inaugural century will be subservient to his wicket-taking); for Australia I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Brad Haddin – if only because he’ll play every game, score some crucial runs and keep wicket soundly.
JK: 5-0. Unless the weather’s a bit dodgy, in which case: 4-0. Swann is a decent shout but Australia would need to last more than a couple of overs for him to actually get on, so I’ll go with Jimmy Anderson. For the Aussies Steve Smith will, of course, shine, as he fails to play a single game and his reputation is enhanced still further by un-association with the calamity. Not that I’m setting myself up for a fall again.
ML: I’ll stick with 2-all. England’s player of the series will be Kevin Pietersen, who looks to be in pretty decent touch at the moment. Australia’s man of the series will be Kevin Pietersen, who as usual will do as much damage off the field as he does on it.
NB: I’ll go for a 3-0 England win. That blasted British summer to claim two Tests. Probably ones in which Australia are well on top, much to their annoyance.
NB: Last question: how many runouts will Shane ‘Watto’ Watson be involved in?
MH: You mean as the batsman yeah? Two. If you include as fielder, still two.
JK: Seven, with a couple of awwwwwwwwwwwwww no’s thrown in.
ML: One. The other 99 Australian wickets to fall in the series, however, will all somehow manage to be runouts engineered by Phil Hughes.
NB: In the most shocking prediction 51allout has ever seen, I’m going to go for none. Not a single one. I feel incredibly dirty for saying that.
And with that Editor Steve finally unlocked the cage door, allowing us to once again roam the streets like Noel Edmonds (but with somewhere to actually go). The fun doesn’t end there though. In a first (and almost certainly last) for 51allout we’re going to do an actual competition. All you have to do to enter is answer the last question above (‘how many runouts will Shane ‘Watto’ Watson be involved in when batting?’) with the nearest the bull winning the prize (via a lucky dip if we need a tiebreaker). You can enter via the comments section below, via Twitter (@51allout) or via our mailbox thingy (email@example.com).
But what can you win? The greatest prize known to man: the respect of your peers. Plus an unsigned picture of Somerset non-legend and sworn enemy of 51allout, Adam Dibble (RRP: one English pound, or 33.33 pence for every First Class appearance for the great man). It’s the ultimate prize! You could use it to scare children away from your front door, to help you improve your dartboard aiming or simply to carry around in your wallet and impress girls.
Anyway, enter the competition now – no entries will be accepted after the series starts (probably, but you can still try). 51allout’s decision is final (definitely). Other legal stuff probably applies as well. You can probably tell that we haven’t done this before.