Ashes 2013-14: Australia & England rivalry heats up before series starts
Ashes 2013-14: Australia's Darren Lehmann and England's Stuart Broad ensure there won't be a lack of spice in the winter series
Memories of the summer’s Ashes series in July and August may still be fresh in the mind, but the prelude to the follow-up tour Down Under has quickly gathered momentum.
Kicking off just three months after the previous tour, fears that the sting of the upcoming Ashes series would be dampened by close proximity have been timely allayed by feisty, pre-first ball sparring between the English and Australian camps.
If debate surrounding the credibility of Hot Spot during the summer series had not already provided an added spice to the imminent winter tour, then personalised bear-baiting coming from both camps most certainly has.
With the first Test set to begin on 21 November at The Gabba in Brisbane, Aussie fans are already well aware of who their public enemy number one will be. Stuart Broad.
“I hope the Australian public give it to him right from the word go for the whole [Australian] tour,” said Darren Lehmann, Australia cricket coach, on Triple M radio network.
Clearly Broad had incensed Lehmann when the Englishman decided not to walk after edging Ashton Agar to slip during the first Ashes Test, and Lehmann has really let rip.
“And I hope he cries and goes home. I don’t advocate walking, but when you hit it to first slip it’s pretty hard,” he added.
Fair enough, the man has a point. Fortunately for him the controversial infrared camera technology Hot Spot, used to detect edges, has been removed from the upcoming series – so there will be no fear of a repeat of that episode.
But what about the rest of the England side that won their third consecutive Ashes series 3-0, despite some tenacious displays from Australia. Surely that merits some credit?
Commenting on England’s style of cricket, Lehmann said: “Dour. It’s not the type of cricket I’d play. At times I’d like to see their over rates picked up.
“We’ve found England cracks and worked out plans. I’m always confident,” added the 43-year-old former professional batsman.
Single-handedly Lehmann has riled the England camp, now almost two weeks since they jetted off for Australia, and given his opponents and even bigger reason to beat their fiercest rivals on their own turf.
To add to the heat, Broad did not let these comments pass, and has demonstrated that he will happily take the fight to the Australians.
In an interview with former England captain Michael Vaughan, Broad accused the Australians – Lehmann and Shane Warne in particular – of “trash” talking.
Adding to the apparent ongoing feud, he also stated that he did not regret his decision not to walk at Trent Bridge.
“Lehmann will try mind games, but you’d expect Australia to try and get inside our bubble.” Broad said.
“It’s a PR game. I see Warne as working for Australia. We are not listening to what he says. It’s like a big fight – all the trash talk that goes before it. We don’t need to get involved in that.”
Whilst select individuals continue to talk the talk, England captain Alastair Cook has taken the more objective, subtle approach.
The 28-year-old insists that rewriting Ashes history by securing a fourth successive series victory over Australia is their biggest aim.
“We have an opportunity to do something very special, that no other England side has done for more than 100 years,” Cook said.”
“Winning this winter would be the ultimate.”
The stage is certainly being set. Early punches have already been thrown, and all are aware that any slip up will be pounced upon like nothing before.
As England try to find their feet during their initial warm-up itinerary, certain individuals will arguably be aware that the walk is now there to be walked.