In the modern era, backroom staff spend an age analysing their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses using everything from video footage to algorithms. But all this hi-tech subterfuge is of no use if your computer encryption is weak. Guerilla activist and IT specialist Jason Hiscox drove through Cricket Australia’s gatekeepers in minutes to access their Ashes file on England – and it turned out to be disappointingly basic.
Alastair Cook – Past captain (remind him of that, and that they don’t tend to stay in teams long). Almost endless stamina and concentration, so wear him out – make him run every run. Hesitant footwork early in innings, so york the bastard!
Mark Stoneman – Surprise package. Solid technique, hard pitches likely to suit back-foot game, so get the bowlers to pitch it up. Better still, york the bastard!
Gary Ballance – left-handed, back-foot hoverer in and out of the side. Good domestic season got him on the tour, but old habits likely to be his downfall. York the bastard!
Joe Root – Current captain. Get in his ears early. If we get on top of him all the Poms will suffer. Poor 50 to 100 conversion rate, so remind him of this often. Prone to injudicious sweep shots, so get “Garry” after him. Bounce and sledge the bastard!
James Vince – Jeez, how is this guy on the tour? Indifferent domestic season after being dropped from Test side for getting out too often in the 30s. Likes driving but can be a strength and a weakness when the wickets seam. Bowl in the corridor and he’s likely to gift us his wicket – no need to sledge the bastard!
Dawid Malan – Middle-order lefty with delusions of Gower. Bowls filthy leg spin – tell him that’s why he is in the squad. Flappy against the short ball, so bounce the bastard!
Ben Stokes – Not likely to be a problem this tour, courtesy of his fists. But if he does turn up, rile him from the start, as if he doesn’t deck you he’ll injure himself hitting a solid object. If present, potential match-winner. Grudging respect for the bastard. But still sledge the bastard!
Jonnie Bairstow – Middle-order biffer and much improved with the gloves. Tell him his autobiography is so much better than his batting and ‘keeping. High backlift, so get the quicks to slip one under before he gets a chance to react – york the bastard!
Ben Foakes – Backup keeper-batsman, first tour. Unlikely to figure unless circumstances force a reshuffle, so ask him if he’s a good waiter, coz he’s likely to be doing a lot of it.. Probably OK to ignore the bastard!
Moeen Ali – Like Mitchell Johnson, beware his bowling if he bats well in the previous innings, as has a knack of getting good players out with innocuous deliveries. Scores quickly but will give chances. Uncertain against short ball, so bounce the bastard!
Chris Woakes – Fast-medium seamer and capable late middle-order batter. Recently returned from a long lay-off, so get Warner to lay into his bowling early and set the tone. Attack the bastard!
Stuart Broad – Tall, lanky fast bowler. Generally has one match-winning spell a series, so withstand it and he’ll be a busted flush. Batting can be occasionally annoying but short bowling tends to send him scurrying to square leg so bounce the bastard!
Jimmy Anderson – England’s premier fast bowler. Dangerous when it swings, so probably only worrying for ten overs in Oz and close to being past it. Tell him he should be back in Burnley with his pipe and slippers. Bats like a rabbit in the headlights, so if a good line doesn’t do for him, bounce the bastard!
Jake Ball – Tall, earnest quickie. Back up for either Anderson or Broad, although Finn’s injury muddies the water. Very up and down with the ball, so attack the bastard.
Craig Overton – Tall, rangy fast bowler, picked after a good domestic season in a relegated side, so how good can he be? Has had issues with his temper, so tell him his twin should have been picked instead. Sledge the bastard!
Mason Crane – Wunderkind leg spinner. Good in grade cricket and picked for NSW last year but struggled back in England. Tell him he won’t get a bowl before Malan. If he does, hit him out of the attack before he learns his craft. Attack the bastard!
Tom Curran – Finn’s replacement, untested at Test level. Suggest to him his younger brother should have got the nod, although as he’s from southern Africa stock, probably no point in sledging the bastard.