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In the pink for Sydney Test

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Adam Mountford | 09:57 UK time, Sunday, 2 January 2011

The attitude of the Test Match Special team is very much the same as that of the England side. We are delighted that the Ashes were retained at the Melbourne Cricket Ground after 24 years of hurt, but know the job is not yet finished.

Don't you worry, there will be no complacency slipping into Aggers' commentary; Geoff Boycott will not be taking his foot of the pedal when it comes to demanding bowlers put the ball in the "corridor" and, if anything, Andrew Samson, our fantastic scorer on this trip, will be working even harder to make sure no record is missed.

Then of course there is the matter of Jonathan Agnew's much-publicised sprinkler dance.

Aggers does the Sprinkler

Aggers practices the sprinkler dance in front of Sydney Opera House

Regular listeners to TMS or follows of Aggers on Twitter will be fully aware of exactly what is at stake at the Sydney Cricket Ground this week.

A defeat for England would no doubt be a cricketing anti-climax with Australia able to claw back some pride for squaring the series. But an Australian victory here in Sydney would also rob the world of some of the finest dance moves.

In a moment I'm sure he will live to regret Aggers agreed to "do the sprinkler" in public if England won the Ashes series. I can reveal that, although he is taking nothing for granted, Aggers has been practising to make sure that - if the time comes - he will not let anyone down.

However, I could probably arrange for Boycott to be on hand to criticise his dancing technique.

Joining Aggers and Sir Geoffrey in the TMS box at the SCG will be Michael Vaughan, Michael Slater, Jim Maxwell and Vic Marks with Simon Mann making his first appearance of the tour after replacing Christopher Martin-Jenkins, who has returned home to prepare for further duties as President of the MCC.

We'll also have contributions from the analyst Simon Hughes and the Australian batting coach Justin Langer who made his final Test appearance at this ground four years ago.

Of course Langer said farewell alongside two other greats of the Australian side that day in Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath - and I'm delighted to say that we'll be hearing from McGrath during the lunch interval on the opening day of the Test.

Australia's team line up in Baggy Pink caps

Australia's team line up in Baggy Pink caps, along with bowling great Glenn McGrath Photo: Getty

As well as hearing his views on the travails of the current Australian team, Aggers will be learning about the work of the McGrath Foundation, which will be featured very heavily during this game.

The SCG game will be known as the "Pink Test" with lots of events being organised to help promote awareness of breast cancer and to raise money to provide breast care nurses in communities across Australia. There will be pink stumps, pink bat handles, pink shirts and the Test series sponsors Vodafone have even changed the colour of their logo for the first time to fit in with the theme.

The foundation was set up after Glenn's wife Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of just 31. Sadly, she died in 2008 and the third day of every SCG Test will be known as "Jane McGrath Day" to help celebrate her life and promote the work of the foundation.

The Australian team were pictured the day before the Test wearing "Baggy Pink" hats instead of the traditional green and the England players joined in donning pink England caps for the photographers.

The England team are also donating a signed shirt to help raise money for UK based charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Glenn McGrath is not the only legendary Australian player we will be hearing from during this Test. Tom Fordyce has been to meet 88-year-old Arthur Morris, considered one of Australia's best ever left-handed batsman.

Morris was the leading scorer on the so-called "Invincibles" tour of 1948 where he played a key role, alongside Don Bradman chasing down 404 to win an amazing Test at Headingley. Morris was also batting at the other end when "the Don" was bowled second ball in his final Test innings.

Of course Don Bradman is the most famous cricketer of all time - but I bet our guest during Wednesday's tea interval hadn't heard of him until a few weeks ago.

In fact she didn't even know what the Ashes were until a remarkable quirk of fate turned her almost overnight into a worldwide online celebrity. I am talking of course about 22-year-old American Ashley Kerekes who became a Twittersphere sensation when the nickname given to her by her boyfriend "theashes" led to her receiving tweets from thousands of cricket fans from across the world.

She famously tweeted ''I AM NOT A FREAKIN CRICKET MATCH!'' But the Massachusetts-based babysitter has managed to land a trip of a lifetime to Australia and will be at the SCG this week. She'll be telling Aggers what she makes of the experience.

Of course if you are Twitter-friendly you can always get in touch with us at TMS throughout the game with your thoughts - you can contact many of the team including @aggersashes, @tmsproducer, @vaughancricket and many more. Plus you can always e-mail us tms@bbc.co.uk or text 84040.

5 live of course will have masses of coverage of this final Test, led by Mark Pougatch who will be presenting Ashes Breakfast each morning from 0600 GMT.

Among his guests will be the former England batsman Mark Butcher who scored a century here at the SCG in 2003.

If you miss any of the action overnight then don't forget you can always catch up with our Ashes Highlights programme on air from close of play and then repeated all day on 5 live sports extra or you can download the TMS Ashes Podcast.

There will also be plenty at bbc.co.uk/cricket including the text commentary, Tom Fordyce's always-interesting blog, Jonathan Agnew's column, Justin Langer's moment of the day and pictures from behind the scenes at TMS.

It all gets underway Sunday night from 2300 GMT on 5 live sports extra and Radio Four (198 LW) with a half an hour build up including first news of the toss and teams.

Finally I would just like to say a huge thankyou to one group of listeners who have amazingly stayed up for every ball of this series.

The 207-strong group have called themselves "the Night Squad" and Pam Nash e-mailed me the other day to tell me all about them. Apparently they keep each other entertained exchanging tweets through the night on subjects such as suggesting the best stamina lunches to help then through the small hours.

Thanks so much to all of you who have been with us through this fantastic Ashes series. I just hope we get a brilliant climax and a chance to finally see the Agnew Sprinkler!

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Adam,

    Thank you very much for the outstanding coverage so far during the series. I have particularly enjoyed Simon Hughes' commentary - he has been an excellent addition to the team. Looking forward to hearing from McGrath - a true legend who would be first pick in my all time XI.

  • Comment number 2.

    sorry to be late to the party but have only just managed to get get off a knife edge to set up my computer. dont know what the boys were expecting for xmas but hope they enjoyed the eleven turkeys boxing day!! on a serious note players always have teams that they dont excel against apart from his double ton last time australia seem to be colly's.

  • Comment number 3.

    It will be intriguing to see how Clarke goes in his first test as captain. He's won 25 of the 36 games he's skippered in ODIs/T20Is, but his spiky personality, poor form and off-field probs mean he's not quite been taken to the hearts of the Aussie public as skipper. I've collected some more stats, videos and miscellany on 'Pup' below...
    http://pavilionopinions.blogspot.com/2011/01/all-up-in-air-for-captain-clarke.html

  • Comment number 4.

    Alastair Cook to top 600 runs for the series Bell to get his century.

  • Comment number 5.

    If you want to read about what happened when Tom Fordyce met the great Arthur Morris - take a look at his blog http://bbc.in/dOXqXS

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Adam, thanks for the mention!

    I'm back into 'Not tempting fate' mode for the SCG, athough England are increasingly impressive; apart from winning the Test, my one wish would be to see Colly get a good score. As far as Aggers and the Sprinkler Dance are concerned, if the result is right, maybe a guest spot for him on the SOH stage? ;)

    I have Sky on the TV, muted, with TMS commentary; for all those who say the timelag is too great - TMS online, rather than on the radio, syncs almost perfectly with Sky pictures.

    Good to see international sport supporting breast cancer!

  • Comment number 7.

    The foundation was set up after Glenn's wife Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of just 31. Sadly, she died in 2008 and the third day of every SCG Test will be known as "Jane McGrath Day" to help celebrate her life and promote the work of the foundation.

    ---------------------------------------------

    They should have made it an earlier day for this test to be honest, coz if its anything like last week, the stadium will be empty apart from English fans :-)

  • Comment number 8.

    7) I'm gonna go get the papers get the papers.

    Word on the street is that the first 3 days are sold out. Different breed in Sydney Sir. Such is their love of Cricket along with their love for Glenn & the late great Jane, i suspect that we won't see many empty seats at the SCG.

    Having said that, as a pom, we cannot take our foot of the throat. There is just too much Cricket in all formats coming up. Just imagine us meeting Oz in the world cup Final or semi, and imagine their mental state if they are coming off the back of a 1:3 Ashes defeat.

  • Comment number 9.

    Top notch performance from you guys in the box this series Adam (as always.) Aggers and Geoffrey especially have been in outstanding form. Its made all those late nights really worth it. I agree Simon Hughes has been a super addition to the team. He is very insightful and offers excellent viewpoints. Mr Fordyce has upped his game recently as well. Seems to be combining more cricket based chat with comedy, where-as before i found he was simply writing a comedy script. Now he is focusing on the actual cricket more, he comes across as knowing more about the game than i thought. Enjoy the last Test, oh and is there any chance of Sir Geoffrey joining Aggers with the Sprinkler dance??????????

  • Comment number 10.

    can't wait to tune in tonight...TMS is simply the best! thanks for the great coverage so far. Aggers looks like he has the right technique in the picture so I'm sure he'll look the part when England win.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's about time Simon Hughes got another gig. His amusing and insightful comments have added greatly to the already excellent TMS commentary.

  • Comment number 12.

    to all...how do you think Khawaja and Beer will get on?

    Also, will Clarke do a good job as captain and is it right that Ponting is around the squad even though he is injured?

  • Comment number 13.

    I'd love to know the stats of hoe many people watch Sky but LISTEN to TMS :)

  • Comment number 14.

    Sorry, how not hoe!

  • Comment number 15.

    I wonder whether the Aussie press will preface every mention of Khawaja with 'Pakistan-born', as they do 'South African born' with appropriate members of the England team! Probably only if he's xxxx!

  • Comment number 16.

    @ #7, very classy, Jimmy2Times. That was a joke in the poorest possible taste.

  • Comment number 17.

    This Sydney test match is very important for both teams
    It is interesting to see how Australia will do in this test match
    Will they play very poor like they did in the last test match or will they play a lot better without Pointing in this test match?

    I expect England to win the Sydney test match

    It's no surprise that Australia got a Pakistan-born player is there team.
    We all know England are currently playing with 4 South African-born players in their team

    I expect excellent TMS commentary for this test match as usual

  • Comment number 18.

    #16 A little harsh perhaps. The comment was about the Aussie fans, it's the associated issues that renders it inappropriate. More ill-considered than pure bad-taste I suspect.

  • Comment number 19.

    Another good article. Think you need to give the Barmy Army a mention with regards to thier brilliant support towards the McGrath foundation.
    They do a fantastic amount of work for various charities. Keep up the good work boys and lets make it 3-1. Happy New Year to all and Sundry.

  • Comment number 20.

    Just mention to Glen it was daft him predicting 5-0 to the Aussies. But wish him all the best with his foundation.

  • Comment number 21.

    The McGrath Foundation has benefited from the Barmy Army pink Breast Cancer charity tee shirt on sale during the series and on full display in the Barmy crowd at Melbourne. Incidentally McGrath remarried in November 2010.

  • Comment number 22.

    In the scheme of things The Cricket is a side issue (now I will be hung drawn and quartered).

    It is a great idea to give the test a "Theme" to help raise money for charity and long may it continue.

  • Comment number 23.

    As for the Cricket, even after one day it looks as if England are at least giving themselves a good chance of a result, but the test has four more days to run, so we could see some nice twists and turns before the game is over.

    I just love Cricket, the game the drama, the fun and enjoyment, but most of all I love to see England beat Australia, so C'mon ENGLAND \0/

  • Comment number 24.

    Looking forward to the next few days cricket. Pink hats, stumps included. Excellent idea.

    kind of quiet down here........

  • Comment number 25.

    Adam,

    Very much enjoying TMS from down under and thought I would point something out which might help to add some background colour (no pun intended) to your coverage of Jane McGrath day on Wednesday.

    The idea of using pink sports equipment to raise awareness of breast cancer first came about (I believe) in the National Hockey League in 2006. It went down so well that Major League Baseball followed suit that same year - and the campaign has become a regular feature of Mothers Day games in the MLB ever since. Players play with specially dyed pink bats, all teams wear pink caps instead of their regular uniform and so on.

    Every year the MLB raises hundreds of thousands of dollars through sales of special merchandise and it has become a real tradition. Many other sports in the US have followed suit. Let's hope that Jane McGrath day can be as successful. And who knows? Maybe some day we will see sports in the UK similarly involved in worthy causes like this.

  • Comment number 26.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 27.

    The McGrath Foundation is a noble initiative. Interesting blog by Adam. All the best to Team TMS.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 28.

    Seriously, The Pink Test!!! You could have at least mentioned it throughout the match. I just bought a new TV and kept adjusting the colour thinking there was something wrong with it. Thanks for that!!! Good cause though!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    HELP REQUIRED! I'm struggling a bit with the famous Sky muted/TMS timelag. Any suggestions as to how best to crack this problem? Is there any sort of delay facility available?

    PS Can I just add my agreement to those who've said that Simon Hughes is a fine addition to the TMS team (I am referring to the fast medium bowler, not the LibDem MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark).

  • Comment number 30.

    If Superman can wear his pants outside his trousers, why can't Vic Marks do the same to prove he's wearing pink today?

  • Comment number 31.

    Thank you for the continued, and indeed fabulous coverage which I've enjoyed for many years now as both man and boy. I've found myself moved to comment for what is my first time not just for the extraordinary series that is being played out but particularly for the featuring and highlighting of the cause of breast cancer in young women through the Jane McGrath Foundation's involvement in the Sydney Test (and it's link up with Breakthrough here in the UK). Before this I hadn't been aware of the details of Jane McGrath's experience but I now, through TMS, discover that her experience is almost identical to that of my wife Helen. She too was diagnosed at the age of 31 only a few months after Jane McGrath. She would have been in agreement with her in that there wasn't much allowance for young women with the disease in terms of providing relevant information and support. These things changed slowly over the course of her illness to the point now were there is far more provision for the unique circumstances that a younger woman finds herself in. But there is still much to do with this illness and initiatives that raise the profile of it, wherever in the world that may be and through whatever medium (I remember a couple of seasons ago Surrey's T20 squad were kitted out in pink?) are to be applauded, highlighted and supported. Helen died in 2008 when the cancer returned for the third time, as it turns out just a few months after Jane McGrath. Every year that passes sees improvements and advances in all aspects of treatment from emotional & practical support to improved medicines, all this possible by raising funds through awareness..best wishes to the Jane McGrath Foundation for the work they do and indeed TMS for highlighting such a cause in a way that only they could.

  • Comment number 32.

    Adam, good TMS line-up this series: Sir Geoffrey always a pleasure, Michael Slater good value, Michael Vaughan improves but still talks too much, absence of Pougatch very welcomed (for Gods sake keep his 6th form earnestness to football and their easily-excitable fans) and the rest of them having a good tour. Would have been nice to hear Blowers though, he sounded rather forlorn when interviewed on Fivelive/Radio 2 (can't remember which) one afternoon in November. On the whole, excellent coverage as usual.

  • Comment number 33.

    I would like to say a huges thanks to TMS and the team. It's been a lot more inspired and enjoyable this time down under. Going into work groggy eyed has been worth it this time around - be nice to take the series and the one dayers.

    Wasn't aware of the Magga (McGrath) pink foundation before and lots of respect for that. As an England barmy fan my heart goes out to him and rivalries all aside.


  • Comment number 34.

    So if we manage to pan the Ozzies again is it acceptable to rename the competition "The Smashes"? Such a good watch so far!

    The "switch and save" technique for the managers of cricket is so much closer to the wire than football - it's like watching grown men play chess.

    Now that it's piling on the love for charity my [pink] hat is well and truly off to the lads.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well it's shame to hear of Colly's retirement from Test cricket, he has been until this series (which I say with the utmost respect for the guy) a brilliant batsman like a rock in the middle order around which the batting line-up could be moulded. At 34 it was always fair to say that Colly's 'hay day' is behind him, certainly in Test cricket, but he has always had more to his game than batting brilliance and his phenominal slip catch and bowling-out of Hussey have to be two of his biggest highlights in this tour. He'll be missed in the Test team, but at his age while he is still decent we have a good pool of talent outside the current lot to replace him.

    This Fifth Test is fast fading out for the Aussies, with the series already long gone and a seemingly hefty challenge coming up with their 2nd innings in bat it looks like this game might well be winnable in four days like the last one. I say this rather hopefully, perhaps optimism is getting a little ahead of me, but from past experience in this series anything over 300 seems to be too much for Australia to chase down at the moment.

    Also, fantastic century up for Prior from a very good knock. I can't quite believe it's only his fourth Test hundred, so many other good scores that just haven't stayed the extra few runs. I would not have anyone else as Test 'keeper-batsman at the moment in this England side, I can see why 20-over cricket doesn't really suit him but it's not unlikely that he'll get back into the 50-over ODI format in the near future even if only as a specialist batsman with someone else keeping. Here's to what will hopefully be a strong four-day win for England to take a brilliant Ashes series 3-1, bring on the ODIs!

  • Comment number 36.

    The Barmy Army are great representatives over in Oz, but back home the Pyjama Army have been staying up well into the night to show support and listen feverishly to Five Live! Keep it up, guys, we're nearly there!

  • Comment number 37.

    Many congratulations and thanks to Andy Strauss and his team for representing England so well and winning the series. Before the series began, I had decided that, having been an avid England cricket supporter for over twenty years, this is the last series that I will be following (if the so-called Barmy Army are the modern representatives of the English cricket fan, then for me, it's time to stop being one); and so I will be turning my attentions to my other great love, tennis. It's great, though, the last series I will follow has ended in a long-awaited victory in Australia! Thanks, guys.

 

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