In this week’s issue, a slight departure for the Smaximum™ as we cast ahead to the Ashes with the opinions of as many Guerillas – commentators and contributors – as we could get our hands on. We’re also greatly in debt to Chris Woke, our forthrighty forthnightly columnist and vocal proponent of diversity and everything for everyone all at once, for taking time out from netting at Edgbaston to give his own thoughts from inside the camp. And he starts our round-up. And to round it all off, @guerillahendo gets serious for a minute or two


Alright there, me ducks? Chris Woke here: lightly gripping the seam, heavily grappling the system.

I’ve been asked by the Old Grey Men at Guerilla Cricket to provide my men’s Ashes predictions. Now, I have two problems with this request. Firstly, the word “predictions” – and specifically that middle syllable – just confirms the phallo-centric, oppressive, male hegemony that is the tiresome context within which we are forced to operate. Rise up, sisters!

Secondly, I find the whole idea of numbers intrinsically exclusionary. I mean who are you to tell me that 200 is subservient to 300, especially where 200 identifies as half-a-thousand? Exactly. Watch out for my new scoring system based on the world’s dying flora and fauna, which I’ve formulated alongside me old mucker and teammate, Ian ReBell. Soon the game of cricket will embrace the idea that a side will only be asked to follow on if it’s a Bornean orangutan behind the opposition’s narrow-ridged finless porpoise.

But for now, and while our Extinction ReBell Ian system is in the works, I’ll grudgingly accede to the Grey Men’s appeal.

SCORELINE England Men 4 Australia Men 1.

WHY: Quite simply, good will prevail over evil. England’s men have been far quicker to embrace alternative lifestyles than their Australian counterparts. Take Stuart Broad, who often transitions into Ellyse Perry – or Moeen Ali, who occasionally identifies as a Test cricketer. Contrast that with a frankly Victorian view from Australia that only a moustache like a privet hedge confers masculinity on the Head of the wearer. England men will race into a 4-0 lead, only for Nathan ‘Lenny The’ Lyon to bowl Australia men to victory at the Oval on a pitch affected by a protest from Just Topsoil.

STAR MAN Well, if only we could be as gender-fluid as David Bowie was when he brought us this in the ’70s. Ollie Pope, who also embraces identities including Chief Rabbi and Grand Imam of al-Azhar, will be in batting Paradise/Valhalla/Elysium as he rattles off 1,152 runs at an average of 384 (or a Northern bald ibis, in the Extinction ReBell Ian system). Me new mucker, King Charles, will elevate young Ollie to MBE. Not quite an OBE, is it, old son, but not half bad.

FLOP Ignoring the implicit reference to erectile dysfunction, and the attendant underlying belief that a man can only be successful if he’s constantly priapic, this dubious honour will fall to “Is There Life on” Maaaaaarnus Labuschagne. Joe “Nothing Funny About My Name, you outmoded Australians” Root will be his nemesis, taking his scalp 17 times for a total of 12 runs (or a ‘Snowdonia Hawkweed’ in the ERI).

So there you have it, people. And remember: the Ashes wouldn’t exist were it not for the flagrant and criminally wasteful burning of solid fuel.

Look after each other, me ducks. Ta-raa for now.

Chris ‘Nowt So LGBTQ As Folk’ Woke

And from the rest of the Guerilla pavilion

BRIAN BARRISH (US–based commentator and writer, father of three-year-old, friend of Liam Plunkett)

SCORELINE England 1 Australia 3, Mother Nature 1

WHY Australia will have prepared for this tournament by playing India in the WTC Grand Final.  England will have prepared by playing the Test cricket equivalent of Moldova.  The Aussies will be more tempered for success.

STAR MAN Scott Boland.  It doesn’t matter how soupy the British summer makes the pitches, Boland will devour these English batters with more veracity than my 3-year-old daughter going through a tin of crisps.

FLOP “Bazball” (StoKeyCulllumball – ed).  It’s a good idea, in theory.  So is communism, in theory.  It won’t be a whitewash but Australia will figure out how to play against this style so successfully that Brendon will want to sneak back on the plane home.

Gary Naylor (Loquacious commentator, theatre wordsmith, occasionally hyperbolic, trumpeter)

SCORELINE England 3 Australia 2

WHY Bazball (StoKeyCullumball™ – ed) will be derided and vindicated as England throw away winning positions with collapses, reverse-sweeping Nathan Lyon and charging Patrick Cummins, but also vindicated as Stokes and Anderson do a Stokes and Leach and get us over the line chasing down 350 in two sessions.

STAR MAN Zak Crawley will make two astonishing centuries, 90 not out at lunch both times, that set up wins and will fail, nicking off for 20-odd at best the other eight times he bats. Debate will rage as to whether two 150s (out of 260 for three en route to 480 all out and six-wicket victories) compensate for the failures. Jonny B makes the 150 in the other England victory while Joe Root clocks up one century and four fifties at 66.

FLOP David Warner will regret his hubris in asking for an SCG send-off when Aus go like-for-like and open with Mitchell Marsh, who immediately starts the 150-or-nicking-off-for-20 cycle at the top of the order.

Jeff Perkins(US-based Australian chief jingler, composer of the award-winning ‘Ball Tampering Bancroft’’, listener)

SCORELINE England 3 Australia1

WHY Having cast off their European overlords and having taken back control of their own country, the English, Welsh and weather will be unstoppable. Until a display of extreme arrogance after having bowled a couple of core speedsters into the ground through over-reliance and the pursuit of quick runs with makeshift openers bites them in the ass. But, 3-1. Suck on that Australia.

STAR MAN – David Bowie. The man waiting in the sky’s songs will provide jingles more memorable than the cricket. It’s Ashes, He’s Ashes, Ashes to Ashes and funk to funky, David Warner looks like a monkey.

FLOP An aging David Warner will get too many edges to get Australia going and Marnus will pay for chinks in his technique that he tends to get away with elsewhere. Hendo will fall off the pastry wagon and OD on a doughnut midway through the third Test (already have – ed).

Ian Forth (Australia-based English commentator, writer, currently exploring Italy on way to Guerilla studio for Ashes)

SCORELINE England 5 Australia 0

WHY? Terry Pratchett once predicted that everyone’s insane theory would be treated with equal respect on the internet, giving birth to a terrible world where fact and fiction were indistinguishable. Bill Gates disagreed with him saying, “Not for long. The whole way that you can check somebody’s reputation will be so much more sophisticated on the Net than it is in print today.”

“The growth of the internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in Metcalfe’s Law which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants – becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other. By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.” So wrote the winner of the Nobel prize in Economics Paul Krugman in 1998.

SO STAR MAN: Dom Sibley.

FLOP: “An American tragedy. There are lessons here for everyone.” Thus Jeff Bezos, in 1997. About Apple.  So there will be no flops. It will be England 2005 once again, without even Geraint Jones’ wicketkeeping shortcomings or Ian Bell’s rookiness. You heard it here first.

Mog (Melbourne-based chief jingler, composer of censored Ben Stokes ditty, lead singer of Disinterested Handjob, axe and swordsman, listener)

SCORELINE England 2 Australia 1

WHY: England, playing at home and fortified by a reinvigorated Moeen Ali, will streak out of the gates on the back of that advantage to a 2-0 lead early. Then the rain will spit the next two with a rod of watery horror, then Australia will take a consolation win as a result of English disinterest, complacency, and hangovers. The bitter acrimony will start in the Australian press about halfway through day two of the first Test and there will be calls for players dropped and captains sacked and the return of the Brown-Nosed Gnome. And Tom Abell will play in the final Test.

STAR MAN: David Warner – he’ll make a career-saving 32 off 89 balls in the first innings of the first Test and LOCK IN his place for the rest of the series. Big chance of accumulating nearly ONE HUNDRED RUNS over the ten potential innings. For England, Simon Kerrigan will get a shock call up after Moeen amazingly doesn’t contribute, and takes career best figures of 13 for 142 in the third Test.

FLOP: Is it heresy to say Jimmy Anderson will break down early and probably end his career in a field somewhere eagerly hoping to service some mares and furnish future English teams? If not, then that. Also, Hazelwood – cruelled by so many niggling injuries that he never really gets a decent run at it.

Annie Chave (commentator, County Cricket Matterer and Natterer, Erratics CC superfan)

SCORELINE England 3 Australia 1

WHY Because Joe Root has had a fantastic warm up sitting on the bench at the IPL – while Labuschagne & Smith have only had second division county championship experience and therefore have no possible idea what it’s like to play with the Best of the Best.

STAR MAN Root of course – for obvious reasons with a reserve for Moeen (same reason obvs).

FLOP Steve Smith – not a chance against the big boys.

Nigel Henderson (Guerilla co-founder, anchor, chief ranter)

SCORELINE England 0 Australia 0

WHY: Teams are so closely matched with threatening and experienced, if regularly injured, bowling attacks, inventive batting line-ups and such positive captains that neither team will know when it’s beaten – and indeed neither will be as all five matches are tied in nerve-jangling climaxes from Edgbaston to the Oval. Australia keep possession of the urn but England lodge a complaint with the ICC citing that such an outcome cannot be countenanced in the StoKeyCullum™ era. The ICC suggest playing a Super ODI but finally arbitrate in favour of the Poms in lieu of their agreeable absence of stupid moustaches.

STAR MEN: Ben Stokes, Zak Crawley and Moeen Ali. Stokes becomes the first captain to go through a Test series without batting or bowling as Crawley batters five hundreds at a run-a-ball and Moeen sweeps through the left-hand dominant Aussie batting line-up, although misses the denouement as he is called away for the last day by new owners LIV Cricket for its inaugural Hundred tournament in sub-Saharan Africa.

FLOP: Jack Leach. Groundbreaking AI surgery to fuse the bone on his stress fracture to get him back in action as Moeen’s spin twin goes hideously wrong and he is accidentally cut completely in two. Forced to retire immediately but finds alternative employment with the Taunton Magic Circle.

Nigel Walker (Guerilla co-founder, technical genius, chief swearer, and Bear lookalike)

SCORELINE: England 3 Australia 1

WHY? Because England are bloody brilliant with captain Stokes in charge. There is too much negativity around this England side. Much has been made of the Aussie bowling attack but ours is on home turf and pace isn’t the be all and end all over here. The Aussie attack can flag when it comes under pressure and they haven’t won in the UK since 2002. This, and next year’s tour of India, are the final frontiers when it comes to StokeyCullumball™. Whilst I am a Bear and therefore perennially grumpy I’m also an eternal optimist.

STAR MAN I’m going grumpy grampa Jimmy, he’s going out on a last hurrah and is going to prove that age is but a number, whooping it round corners and bamboozling the Aussies. No matter what they say, they respect a man who has played so many Tests has so many wickets. In much the way McGrath’s reputation preceded him, so does Jimmy’s.

FLOP There’ll be a couple on each side – the obvious wicket-waiting-to-happen Crawley for England, while Warner is Broad’s bunny. But, in hope rather than expectation, I’m going Piggy [Steve Smith]. He’s going to come undone by the nibble of Ollie Robinson and have a howler, denting his self-confidence permanently. He’ll return to Australia a broken man, only seen occasionally slumped in front of a window in his home in his Y-fronts scratching his nads.

Tony Bishop (commentator, Guerilla marketing lead and father of dad jokes)


WHY:Due to the compacting of the schedule, I fear viewers might think they’ve tuned in to Casualty or Emergency Ward 10 (showing your age there – ed) rather than a Test match as bodies will start to fall apart like Laurel and Hardy’s car (showing your age there – ed) . If this is to be the last stand for Anderson and Broad before they swap ball for bathchair and blanket, they will need strong support from the likes of Wood, Robinson, Potts, Tongue, Root and Moeen Ali. Sadly, I’m not sure the Lazarus like return of Ali will give England the control they crave. All that said, England don’t take backward steps these days and there must be a limit to how annoyingly consistent Smith and Labuschagne can be. And there’ll be a weather-affected draw somewhere.

STAR MAN Star man and flop sound like the greatest double act since Abbot and Costello (showing your age there – ed). I’ve got a sneaky feeling that Ben Duckett might just be the one to twinkle twinkle in this series. Compact, belligerent and a capacity to be almost annoying as the Aussie Fidget Twins. That said, Australia’s attack is awesome and I think Scott Boland could well emerge as chief tormenter as England aim to swing their way to victory.

FLOP:Almost everyone will say Crawley won’t they? Loose outside the off stump and a non-descript new town near Gatwick. But even Crawley can have a couple of bright spots. The Three Crowns is worth popping into if you are in that part of West Sussex. On the field though, I have a nasty feeling that Jonny B might suffer from a bit of second season syndrome and go from mirabilis to horribilis. That Aussie attack could test his technique and the Surrey Massive will be licking their lips ready to say “told you so”.

Andy Ward(commentator, poker player, short-format fanboy)

SCORELINE:England 2 Australia 2

WHY: I think these are two evenly-matched sides; there will be results but you always have to account for one to the weather! But it really could go either way

STAR MAN: Harry Brook. He’s the real deal and he’s ready for this.

FLOP: Ben Stokes. Taking everything on to himself, will break into a million pieces physically, mentally or both within three Tests.

Jeremy Henderson(summariser, former Pommie Western Australia weather-cave dweller; Guerilla Round-Up host)

SCORELINE England 1 Australia 3

WHY – English hubris, poor selections (Ali, Crawley, no Foakes), and Australian resilience. Also, had to change my selection after first day of World Test Championship. England to win injury count 7-5.

STAR MAN: Warner – because it will annoy England SO much!

FLOP:  Stokes – walking wounded should not be playing.



Who’d be foolish enough to predict the outcome of the first StoKeyCullumball™ Ashes? Well, Glenn McGrath for one, but his predictions are as predictable as the five deliveries out of six that were propelled into the uncertain corridor on or around the batsman’s off stump when at his peak. (The sixth one was dead straight and pinned you plum in front.) So, yes, take his 5-0 to Australia with a pinch.

Pretty much every former or current cricketer will be doling out his or her opinions in the next few days as the opening salvos draw ever closer but this series surely has the most imponderables of recent times. But let’s ponder them anyway.

There’s Jonny Bairstow, back to keep wicket and bat No 7 when all his StoKeyCullum™ carnage has come batting at five and without the gloves; will he really be able to play with such freedom if he finds himself shepherding a tail that will start with Chris Woakes or Olly Robinson or Moeen Ali at best at No 8?

There is an England pace attack which is surely one of the finest it’s had on paper, but paper that may yet have to be screwed up and lobbed into the waste-paper basket because Ben Stokes is hampered by injury concerns – even if he has been pinging them down in the nets at St Andrew’s University – and one of the two spearheads who might have swapped in for one another on a Test-by-Test basis has been struck by the recurring cricket elbow.

If the one who isn’t Jofra Archer plays the first, third and fifth matches – surely the best Mark Wood can be expected to offer in such a truncated schedule – the opportunities for playing a frontline spinner diminish. Sorry Mo. And no one is really expecting the two road runners with 78 years on the clock between them – Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad – to complete a full complement either.  Where does the frontline spinner fit into this, if indeed he even does? Sorry again, Mo.

And even though StoKeyCullum™ have nodded towards stability at the top of the order as they attempt to squeeze a matchwinning innings from the perennially disappointing Zak Crawley, the focus on his struggles – how big will the clamour have to be for them to alter course if he fails in the first two Ashes matches – tends to distract from other potential problems.

Ben Duckett, you cannot fail to agree, has been pretty magnificent since his return to the Test fold and already has two daddy hundreds at Lord’s alone this summer but is it merely English pessimism that senses that the Australians will have a plan for him backward of square on the off side, where he likes to chop a decent proportion of his runs, or something more palpable? An extraordinary revelation that came out of last week’s Test against Ireland was that he has only left the ball eight times in Test cricket, unlikely in any batsman but even more so in an opener. The likes of Scott Boland and Mitchell Starc will be licking their lips at that stat, although it does take out of the equation the likelihood that he will perish in the same manner as Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara in the World Test Championship final.

Ollie Pope’s double hundred against Ireland will also have cheered England supporters at Lord’s but that attack was barely of county second division standard and he scores double hundreds for fun against bowlers anything less than world-class – of those who laboured as he piled up 251 against the MCC in the UAE in 2019, 274 against Hampshire six months later and 221 not out against Glamorgan in 2021 only Stuart Broad could be put in that category, with honourable mentions for Sean Abbott and Fidel Edwards.

That innings at headquarters did at least hint that his abilities through the off side seem to have been recovered – the wisdom of running down the pitch to clip through leg, something he had adopted as part of his StoKeyCullum reinvention, might be tested to the limit if he perseveres with that approach against the Australia attack.

And there is, of course, the possibility that he could be thrust further into the limelight if Stokes breaks down irretrievably and he is forced to step up from the vice captaincy to lead the team. Is he ready for that level of responsibility?

Harry Brook has raised expectations and will be expected to keep on doing so.

All of those details, however, looked at from a different angle, could be regarded as positives and it’s not as if Australia don’t have their problems, especially at the top of the batting order. Usman Khawaja failed twice at the Oval – not the boost in confidence he would have wanted as he carries an average of less than 19 in England into the series – and David Warner’s struggles here are well-documented. Travis Head might yet have to push up to open if their failures prove irreversible, with Mitch Marsh slotting into the middle order (and, advantageously, adding another bow to the bowling stocks). On current form the openers are like inexperienced jet-skiers buzzing nervously around Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, the imposing and stately cruise liners tethered offshore.

But they cannot rest on their corals – they will have to keep the engine room in working order if Australia are going to score big and often enough. If England are able to expose Head’s weakness to the short ball, unearthed by India in Kennington, he might not score as heavily – or quickly – as he has of late. If much of the talk has been about the hosts’ wicketkeeper-batsman, it could be the contributions with the bat of Australia’s, Alex Carey, that prove pivotal. He favours a reverse sweep as much as the next man.

In the end though, this particular writer is taking Australia to tame the StoKeyCullumball™ beast through the sheer quality and depth of their bowling. They can accommodate an extra seamer that isn’t likely to snap a kneecap at any point, while the Josh Hazelwood hole has been more than adequately filled by Scott Boland. Not only that, they have the variety that the left-arm swing of Mitchell Starc provides and a truly world-class spinner who doesn’t have his mind on other projects.

Stokes has promised that whatever the result, spectators, viewers and listeners will at the very least be entertained. Much as they crave a victory, England supporters will probably accept that if they end up losing a close series, but anything that threatens to leave Glenn McGrath with the smuggest of smiles on his face could spell a rethink of the StoKeyCullum™ era.