The real problem with Joe Root: he's mesmerized by his own talent
Hendo 1st December 2017
Nigel Henderson argues that the England captain's poor conversion rate of fifties to hundreds has an unexpected cause. When Joe Root stumbled towards the offside in trying to play Josh Hazlewood round his pad and through mid-wicket in the second innings of England's defeat in Brisbane – the resulting leg-before was obvious to most watching if not, immediately, the batsman himself – a rare moment of possible insight was offered by Kevin Pietersen. He suggested that Root's slight over-balancing act was a small technical deficiency arising from his response to the short-pitched bowling threat the Australian attack carried, positing that the England captain was primed – perhaps to too great a degree – to take avoiding action.
'The blood drained from my face': Waugh, Warne and the changing of the guard
Gary Naylor 24th November 2017
England had won most of the Ashes series in Gary Naylor's young life and he had no reason to think it wouldn't always be that way. Oh but it would, it would, as he recalls here. England, with a little help from the Packer rebels' absence, had won the Ashes five times out of six, with the 1975 defeat overshadowed in my 12-year-old mind by the new fangled World Cup and the 1982-83 loss in Australia not covered by television and, therefore, it possibly didn't actually happen. I was 26 and I hadn't really seen a half decent Australian side.
Before the Sprinkler: six hours of torture at the hands of Brad the Impaler
Nakul Pande 23rd November 2017
There must be somewhere more comfortable to watch an Ashes than a freezing student shithole above an Indian restaurant in Euston. But that fate befell Nakul Pande who shivers at the memory, one made worse by the interminable company of a grizzled Australian wicketkeeper – and a reminder that 2010-11 wasn't all plain sailing. It is often said that the English have no national myths to speak of – no Aeneid, no Mahabharata, no Washington and the cherry tree. Even King Arthur is a Norman import. The English, they say, have no myths.
The great outpouring of breath: the Ashes, anticipation and a man called Harmy
Hendo 22nd November 2017
The walk to the ground, the murmur at the toss, the delivery of the first ball, it's all about the expectation in an Ashes series. But in 2006-07, it was even more dramatic than usual, as Nigel Henderson, who was there, recalls.
Help me make it through the night: the twilight world of an Ashes Guerilla
Gary Naylor 22nd November 2017
The classic way to get off to sleep is to count sheep – so that's imagining white objects moving in repeating patterns on grass with a little gate in the distance, to the accompaniment of numbers ticking over. Which might explain why so many doze at the cricket too – well, that and the lunchtime gin and tonics.
Rude awakenings: the indispensable guide to surviving an away Ashes
The Guerillas 22nd November 2017
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. 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.
Disasters in the drop zone: men who lost England the Ashes (maybe)
Hendo 21st November 2017
Catches have always won matches – and, indeed, spilled ones have regularly lost them. And they don't come any bigger or important than in an Ashes series. Nigel Henderson looks back on three of the most crucial that went to ground for England against Australia.
Middle management: growing scrutiny adds to umpires' insecurities
Hendo 21st November 2017
It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it. Umpiring, that is. And it doesn't come much dirtier than the Ashes. But hey, get on the ICC'S Elite Panel and you could be laughing all the way to the bank to deposit upwards of $100k a year, along with much international travel. Nigel Henderson considers how officials' differing temperaments help or hinder them. Billy Bowden just wanted everyone to love him.
Culture crash: Ashes sayings from the great, good ... and Piers Morgan
Gary Naylor 21st November 2017
It's just a step to the left ... and a blast through extra cover! From Rocky Horror Show writer to Neil Finn, by way of Walt Whitman and the Bard, the Ashes has inspired some great soundbites. Here are a selection of the finest courtesy of Gary Naylor. "Whose batting will make the difference in the series? Whose captaincy will give their side an advantage? Whose media skills will work best? Whose relationship with the coach will prove most effective? Root's Root's Root's Root's".
Hidden agenda: cricket's Paradise Papers reveal Aussie plans to bring down Poms
Jason Hiscox 21st November 2017
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.