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Will Melbourne serve up more magic?

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Adam Mountford | 12:53 UK time, Thursday, 23 December 2010


England may have finally discovered the secret to dismissing Mr Cricket, thanks to a nine-year-old from Melbourne called Adam.

At a special event at Queensbridge Square in the city, Mike Hussey took to the stage with a host of other cricketing stars during a break in preparations for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. Hussey has so far managed to repel all that England can throw at him but he could not quite manage to keep out the double-bouncing delivery from Adam.

To be honest, I am not certain the youngster's bowling action would pass the ICC's regulations given how bent his bowling arm was on delivery and the pitch was not quite of Test standard but, hey, at least it proves Mr Cricket, as Hussey is known, is fallible.

It was a great effort from all the players to turn out for an event that attracted a huge crowd on the Southbank. Both teams sat patiently signing autographs for those who had come to see their heroes.

There is an amazing buzz here ahead of the fourth Test, which starts on Boxing Day. Reports suggest there could be a record 91,000 sell-out at the MCG for the first day. It is difficult to comprehend exactly what the atmosphere will be like on that opening morning.

My first visit to the MCG was on the 2002/3 tour, when one of my duties was going onto the field at the close of play to interview the players. I will never forget the wall of noise that greeted me when I first emerged from the stands.

I cannot imagine what it is like to be a fielder out on the boundary or a batsman in the middle of what is a unique sporting arena. You can fit the whole of Lord's, England's largest cricket ground, into one of the stands at the MCG. It truly is a remarkable venue.

Back in 2002/3, I arrived in Melbourne with the Ashes already gone. That was the same situation four years ago, too. So the fact this series is beautifully poised at 1-1 only adds to the anticipation this time around.

The MCGThe MCG is an amazing venue. Photo: AFP

The Boxing Day Test is very special for another reason. Because of the time difference, play starts at 2330 GMT in the United Kingdom, giving TMS listeners another highlight on Christmas Day. Once you have demolished the turkey, opened the presents, watched the Queen on television and perhaps had a short afternoon snooze while the children argue over their chocolate selection packs, there is still the joy of tuning into the radio for the start of the day's play from the MCG.

Some of my top cricket-listening moments have come from Ashes Tests at Melbourne: Ian Botham dismissing Jeff Thomson to win that incredible Test in 1982/3; Gladstone Small and Botham running through the Aussies on the way to securing the urn in 1986/87; and Dean Headley bowling England to victory in the game's longest-ever session in 1998/99.

We will be looking back at some of those highlights during our coverage of this Test, hearing from Headley on his 6-60 and remembering England's last Ashes victory down under through the eyes of Small, who took the winning catch, and Frances Edmonds, who wrote a famous account of the tour - Cricket XXXX Cricket.

We will also take a detailed look at the state of Australian cricket with Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland and review a fascinating 12 months for the game - from the highs of England's ICC World Twenty20 win and a thrilling climax to the county season, to the lows of the spot-fixing controversies that dominated headlines.

While England and Australia mull over their line-ups for the MCG, the TMS team is ready and raring to go, although I am not sure what effect the Christmas Day festivities may have. Aggers, CMJ and Jim Maxwell are again the commentators, with expert analysis from Michael Vaughan, Geoff Boycott, Vic Marks and Ian Chappell. There are also welcome contributions from Simon Hughes and Australia's batting coach Justin Langer.

Mark Pougatch will lead the extensive coverage over on BBC Radio 5 live, including full commentary on the opening day's play and a full review during Ashes Breakfast. Mark will be joined by former England batsman Mark Butcher and a host of other big names.

If you cannot be with us all night, you can catch up on all the action with our Ashes Highlights programme, broadcast live at around 0700 GMT and available to hear again all day on Radio 5 live Sports Extra or via the TMS podcast.

And while you listen to that, you can take a look at all the exciting offerings online, including the latest columns and blogs from Aggers and Tom Fordyce, plus Langer's moment of the day. All details at

TMS is on air at 2300 GMT on Christmas Day, with a full 30-minute build-up to the day's play, including first news of the teams and toss. If you cannot wait for that, don't miss Phil Tufnell's Cricket Show on Radio 5 live on Thursday, with guests Marcus Trescothick and Geraint Jones. There is also the TMS Ashes archive. Details at

Finally, can I just take this opportunity on behalf of the whole TMS team to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2011.

Thanks so much for listening to TMS and thanks for all your e-mails, tweets and texts. I hope that we can broadcast good news for you in the new year.


  • Comment number 1.

    cant wait - it is usually dead in the water at this stage as you say. remember headley and the three and a half hour session at mcg, hope we show as much tenacity and fight, we will be fine if we do.

  • Comment number 2.


    Lets hopes so this test match will be excellent
    MCG is expecting a record crowd of around 100,000 and all of them will be supporting Australia

    I expect excellent TMS commentary as usual
    Commentary that keeps us England fans wide awake during the night

  • Comment number 3.

    I still remember the ending of the said match with thommo snicking towards the slips with only a few balls remaining.I nearly choked on my pizza.That was when i hated the England team.Pontings spill for Haddin to mop up in Perth reminded me of that terrible day.But now the 3 lions have no mongrel Botham or pretty boy David Gower to help them.Maybe it's someone elses turn to rise to the grand olde occasion that is the Ashes Boxing Day Test.

  • Comment number 4.

    At least someone has Hussey's number;( It's going to be thrilling stuff. Headley and Botham's heroics mean England have at least won two tests at the MCG in the last 25 years. The Aussies have won the other four, however, including in 1990 when Bruce Reid dismantled the visitors. What a poetic action he had! I've found some footage of him in that series and also a surprising stat on the bowler who tops the averages in Melbourne in the last quarter century. You'll never guess!:

  • Comment number 5.

    Once you have demolished the turkey, opened the presents, watched the Queen on television and perhaps had a short afternoon snooze while the children argue over their chocolate selection packs, there is still the joy of tuning into the radio for the start of the day's play from the MCG.


    This kind of writing rings hollow when you don't live all that far from UK, pay the UK licence fee, yet still can't hear a word of TMS.

    Last time I entered a similar post, someone posted back that you can get TMS anywhere in the world if you have the internet. I do (obviously), but I have tried and tried - unsuccessfully. How's thwe trick done? - Anyone? -

  • Comment number 6.

    Wishing the cricketers, TMS broadcating team, media and the fans a joyful time during the forthcoming Boxing Day Test Match and in the new year 2011.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 7.

    Tom - getting Hussey out is one of many problems for the England team though you can be pretty sure that if he does go cheaply in Melbourne, someone else will make a big score in his stead.

    Also, it seems ridiculous to me to concentrate on one player - he has had a very fine Series so far but he is not alone eg Watson and to a lesser degree Haddin have scored well and others must be on the verge of being big thorns in England's side in Melbourne, not least Ponting and Clarks.

    As for the Series there seems to be misunderstanding amongst England foloowers and media alike. England do not need to win in Melbourne to retain the Ashes. They don't need to win either of the next 2 Tests as the present holders as long as they don't lose.
    The burden is all on Australia but I remain solidly confident they will win this Test and take the Series partly because the force is back with them, many of the fatal old frailties are evident again in the England side and also Sydney, due to weather forecasrs will be a draw result.

  • Comment number 8.

    closertofine @ 7

    I think you're on the wrong blog, mate!

  • Comment number 9.

    Have yourself a merry cricket Christmas! In hopes for tonight, I've done new lyrics for Wham's xmas classic...

    Last Xmas I gave you some darts,
    the very next day we learnt how to play,
    This year we'll get in some beers & listen to Test Match Special

    One win and twice denied
    I'll watch the fourth test or listen on 5 Live
    Tell me Melbourne, will the urn come back to Blighty?
    Well I've seen our world rankings, it doesn't surprise me

    We'll win the Ashes! - I posted on my status
    Post Adelaide I really liked our chances
    Now I know what a fool I've been
    And now they've beat us once, I fear they'll beat us again

    Broke his finger, but Ponting's still their guy
    Out in Perth our batters lost their Eye
    My God we crumpled when their bowlers turned the heat on
    Strauss - I hope you had a shoulder to cry on
    The words of a sledger with a fire in his heart
    But was LBWs & catches that tore us apart
    Oooh Oooh
    If we can find our real form, they'll never school us again

    Last test match you gave me a start,
    On boxing day please please remember to play,
    Tonight we'll get in some beers & listen to Test Match Special

  • Comment number 10.

    NO. 5 Fleet Jack Hobbs.

    You cannot receive TMS outside the UK even online due to contractual rights reasons,however should you wish to and are not upset at having to listen to Channel 9 commentary from the home broadcaster,you can watch live streaming on various sites that are destined for the Middle Eastern and Sub Continent viewers,you can`t be infringing copyright due to the sites being public ones,hope this helps.

  • Comment number 11.

    what on earth is Ian Botham wearing on his feet??

  • Comment number 12.

    "Will Melbourne serve up more magic?"

    Yes. And how.

  • Comment number 13.

    One of the best features of this series' TMS has been the contributions from the South African scorer Andrew (sorry can't remember his surname). Any chnace of him being a permanent TMS fixture?

  • Comment number 14.

    On another note.....and mind, I'm not such a great fan of his anyway, but will someone please send Geoffrey Bloody Boycott home and make sure he never gets hold of a microphone again. He does often come out with some fairly amusing comments - and being a true Yorkshireman, he speaks his mind (just listen to the grilling he gave Stuart Broad in one of the podcasts for proof) and that is fantastic - but for him to say, in the fourth over of a Test match - "I can't see how England can win from here" was positively ridiculous at the time. Looking back, it makes him seem totally and utterly stupid. Boycs, either stop with the daft comments, or shut it.

  • Comment number 15.

    Stats update after an astonishing Day 1 and they make grim viewing for Australia: 98 is the third lowest first innings total in Melbourne and only the fourth time ever a team has been dismissed for under 100 batting first there (and the first time for 78 years). On all grounds a team has only scored less than 100 batting first and eventually won just five times in history. I've collected some others and some Aussie press reaction too:

  • Comment number 16.

    If Strauss doesn't declare soon I'll have no time to go out sledging.

  • Comment number 17.

    once again i am frustrated at the lack of detail in giving out the scorecard
    I waited until martin jenkins gave the first three or four, and then digressed with boycott over something or other.still dont know how collingwood and bell were out, so its sky highlights for me
    Can our producer give out a daily commentators idiot card with the following
    "end of over, give out score and not out batsmens score.
    Every drinks break and at least once in your session give out the card of the day eg Strauss ct ponting b siddle 65 etc, score 90 for 1 and so on.If you break off to give the next ball, pick it up immediately afterwords and carry on.Tell us the fielding places, tell us what the listener cannot see!Thats the art of a good commentator,not drivelling on about the minnah birds on the balcony!
    Bring back Arlott if the present lot cant do it I say

  • Comment number 18.

    Is Justin Langer the most biased, myopic correspondent the BBC Sport website has? All series he has been talking up his Australian team, looking at it in a wholly biased way, but his comments today were amazing. He talked about Matt Prior's dismisal when Aleem Dar called him back a "turning point" and gave the "advantage back to England" Derrrrrr!! I think his useless batsmen handed the advantage to England yesterday and the rubbish bowling they served up.

    No mention of Punter's outburst either? Come on Justin, write about the day's play and do it properly, or not at all.

  • Comment number 19.

    At some point on day 4 England will win this test and thus retain the Ashes and Ricky Ponting will be history. He's been a great player, but now looks shot. After Sydney England will have won the series 3-1 and for once Australia can do the naval introspection!!

    Totally agree with Andy, above. Justin Langer and all his mates just can't accept England are the best team. Let's suppose England had been bowled out for 300, they would still have had a lead of 202, an incedibly strong position from which to bowl again at Australia.

    So let's get this one won, then finish off in style at Sydney and then watch the Aussies weep! From here England will face India, which will be the true test of the progress this team has made. Can't wait.


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