By David O’Neill
As old enemies renew rivalries on the field, off it a war of words is about to explode.
There is nothing more certain than a few jibes from our English colleagues and friends, so it’s time to find that extra layer of skin, sharpen that tongue and let the banter begin.
Whether the game of cricket is your sport of choice is irrelevant.
The sledging set to dominate every office containing a loyal Aussie expat will be thrust upon you regardless, as two countries national pride rests with 11 of their finest.
Just who will win the battle of the banter will almost certainly rely on which team can find the edge out in the middle. The side that emerges victorious will hold bragging rights for over two years until the sacred urn comes up for grabs again.
If you can’t imagine the level of office sledging, just ask any Aussie who has been in London long enough to remember the pain of 2005.
Though history will record the last series on English soil as one of the greatest ever played, for most Australians it simply will be remembered as the contest we lost.
While England’s 2005 hero Andrew Flintoff famously displayed noble sportsmanship to his rivals, the same cannot be said about his supporters.
Four years on, the Poms still talk about the feeling when former captain Michael Vaughan held aloft that precious Ashes urn.
While they no doubt enjoy basking in that famous victory, it appears they gain just as much enjoyment in reminding us Aussies of the outcome.
The subject was mentioned to the Australian cricket team so many times on their arrival last month, Australian wicket keeper Brad Haddin couldn’t help replying in jest.
“It was four years ago, get over it,” he joked.
The amazingly close 2005 series swayed a million times throughout the summer, the English finally finding the character to regain the Ashes, 16 years after they were last its rightful owner.
They won 2-1, largely due to Flintoff, and on the back of Kevin Pieterson’s remarkable last day century, to save the fifth test.
The win sent the country into wild celebrations and allowed the players to briefly achieve rock star status.
The whole squad, even members that only played a small part in the upset win, were awarded MBEs and paraded through the London streets.
But the Aussies hit back in 2007, regaining the Ashes on home soil and ensuring the Barmy Army (English travelling supporters) were left with little to cheer about.
Despite enduring a tough home summer this year, our boys in baggy green found much needed confidence with a win over South Africa in March. They will start slight favourites against the poms with many news faces such as opener Phil Hughes eager to begin a new era of success in Australian cricket.
Shane Warne has been England’s main destroyer in the past, but the champion leg spinner will be missing for the first time in an Ashes series since 1993.
Since his first delivery on English soil in which he rattled the stumps of Mike Gatting, Warne has continually embarrassed English batsman and riled the crowd with his lewd behaviour.
His absence will mean others will have to fill the void if Australia hopes to head home victorious.
Though the English fans will love nothing more than giving us some gentle ribbing shall the tide turn their way, don’t be surprised to see them enjoying their own failures just the same.
It’s a uniquely English trait, an almost acceptance that their hopes are likely to be dashed and their dreams shattered at their teams inevitable defeat.
The famous series begins at Swalec stadium in Wales tomorrow before heading to the traditional home of cricket — Lords, for the second test. The two teams will then head north to Birmingham and Leeds for the third and fourth before returning to the Oval in London for the fifth and final test.