When’s a head butt not a head butt, that is the question on everyone’s lips at the moment. Once upon a time the good old handshake was the way to greet someone, with an occasional hug thrown in. Now we have high fives, knuckle touches and all sorts of flashy manoeuvres. I can imagine Cameron Bancroft would have had some serious reservations with Jonny Bairstow when they met recently and the head butt was the mode of greeting. Do that to Ben Stokes and you might be lying on your backside pretty damn quick!! Bairstow obviously had no malice in the greeting but had he chosen a less amicable person then who knows what might have taken off, especially late at night in a drinking establishment. Weird!
It has certainly fuelled the Ashes battle and if we think we have heard the last of it then just wait for bairstow to come to the crease. The vultures will be swarming!. It had been a very competitive test up until the point that the head butt incident hit the press and then for England the wheels seemed to fall off. As I write Ben Stokes has moved that much closer to the mainland of Australia so don’t be surprised to see him turn up in Perth in 2 weeks time. The other player England would love to get into the side is Mark Wood, who at his best has genuine pace and can also stick around with the bat, which was not a trait that the England lower order mastered in Brisbane. He would certainly give some X factor to the bowling and be able to return a few of the bouncers that so far the England lower order have been digesting.
Now the series heads to Adelaide and quite possibly this could be Englands best chance of the 5 venues because the ball is likely to move around off the seam and Australian batters have shown a healthy dislike to anything that moves of the straight and narrow in the past few years. That means the England batters have to withstand the pace battery of Australia much better than they did at the Gabba and try and place Lyon under much more pressure than he had. Cook needs to fire and the main batters need to go big. England to level the series.
The weekend also see’s the final of the rugby league world cup with the old enemys once again shaping up against each other. There’s only one winner here and the only possible way I see England having a chance is that so many of the Australian wins have been totally one sided so an early challenge from the English might surprise them. But it’s a long shot and I expect Cameron Smith to cap an unbelievable year by lifting another trophy high over his head.
Across to the other side of the world and normal service has also been resumed with the All Blacks taking all comers on and continuing on their merry way. The Scots gave them a fearful fright, the Welsh stuck with them for 50 mins, the French woke up for the second half but were already 30 points behind and the Baa Baas pushed them all the way but as per normal they just kept on finding a way to win. How good it must be to have that inner confidence to meet all challenges head on and continue to be the benchmark for the rest of the world.