Rude awakenings: the indispensable guide to surviving an away Ashes

Academic Josh Robinson, an old hand at sleep deprivation, guides you through the best options to survive the wee hours with Guerilla Cricket and recommends the best commentators for successful slumber.

Continue your usual routine, with added cricket

This method involves falling asleep to the coverage, and getting up early to listen to part of the final session. For the games in the eastern third of Australia, this means going to sleep around 1am, and waking around 6am. It’s different for Adelaide (the day/night game) and Perth (because of the time difference). Play continues until about 11.30am and 10am respectively, meaning you can get up early to listen to a big chunk – along with getting a virtuously early night.

The downside is that it involves resigning yourself to terrible sleep, and missing the larger part of the cricket. Indeed, the better you sleep, the more cricket you miss. That’s not to say that it can’t be an interesting experience – there’s a certain charm to not being entirely sure whether a Peter Siddle hat-trick is the stuff of nightmares or nightmarish reality.

Listening to every ball

If you’re going to follow the cricket from start to finish remain capable of achieving anything else over the next seven weeks, you’re going to have to readjust your sleep pattern. One of the things that I have developed over the course of my fledgling academic career is the ability to stay awake through the night in a range of circumstances, most commonly to meet deadlines.

So when do you sleep?

You have two options: go to bed after the close of play, getting up five to eight hours later, or sleep in the afternoons and early evenings, getting up for play to start. In some respects, the first of these is easier. For a long period while I was living in Berlin during my PhD I got up at about 5pm, had a meal and spent some time with my flatmates, then wrote from midnight until about 9am. This meant I was able to socialize with other people in the evenings. It also meant that I went a long time without seeing any daylight.

But what if you have a day job?

Sleeping during the afternoon and evening is the only way to go, and comes with the added bonus of seeing some daylight. Admittedly, you spend most of it working, but this would be the case even if you weren’t listening to the cricket.

Transitioning to your new routine

For a bunch of reasons, shifting your body clock is fiendishly difficult, more so than keeping yourself awake. And if you don’t stick to it carefully you’ll run the risk of thoroughly upsetting it. Best to sleep as late as you can before the Test starts.

The alcohol dilemma

I’m terrible at following this advice (and it flies in the face of my favourite ways of watching cricket during the day) but I recommend avoiding it — until the final session if you’re going to bed at close of play, and completely if you want to stay awake for the rest of the day. The more you drink, the more it induces sleep, so if you start early it’ll be difficult to catch the whole day’s play.

Beer: tempting companion should be resisted until the final session

The caffeine conundrum

Caffeine can pose problems. Obviously, it can help keep you awake, but it also stops you from going to sleep when you need to. It can also cause a slump when it wears off. I recommend avoiding it for the eight hours before you intend to sleep.

To nap or not to nap

Catnapping will often help, but my experience is that anything more than about twenty minutes will make you feel worse

What to do between games?

The series involves a maximum of 25 days’play spread over 47. There are two seven-day gaps either side of the third Test, in Perth. The question is whether to reset your body clock during this time. The plus side: you’ll spend longer on the schedule you’re used to, more or less the same as everyone else. The minus side: each readjustment involves sleep loss and discomfort.

What to do when you just can’t drop off

Share your experiences with the equally sleep-deprived commentators on Guerilla Cricket. And if you’re feeling resourceful, open a book (or at least a sweepstake) on which of us is going to be the first to nod off.

Best and worst commentators to snooze to

The Hoff Bear: laid-back souf London lilt can help you drift off, although swearing increases in proportion to substances ingested, and trademark cry of “fucking muppets” when England lose wicket – or he’s lost a bet – will have you bolt upright.

Guerilla Hendo: generally reassuring and soothing, unless a terrible shot sends him into one of his infamous rants. Munching of pastries off air can cause distress in some listeners.

Not Fred Titmus: master of tempo and timing – and the sly, dry dig – but occasional intervention of extreme political views could cause you to toss and turn

Gary Naylor: Scouse wit and elegant prose serve as pleasant bedside companions although regular hyperbolic pronouncements may have you yawning more than usual.

Ed Benson: young, loud, brash and proud, voice like a cannon means you’ll still hear him if you put your radio in another room. Or at the end of the garden. Sleep impossible.

Broadcast Schedule

England v West Indies 2024
ENG v WI 3rd Test, Edgbaston
26th July to 30th July
Start time: 11:00 am BST