Ashes Diary: Pommie-basher-in-chief turns on 'shambolic' home attack

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The Independent Online

You know things are not quite right Down Under when Jeff Thomson, Pommie-basher-in-chief, starts talking up England's chances. The scourge of the tourists' batting on the infamous 1974-75 tour says that the current Australia attack is the worst in 30 years. "The fact is the Poms are more disciplined, their bowlers are better," he said.

"I believe their bowlers bowl tighter than our blokes and we don't have the patience that they do. They're just better organised than we are. To me, we look like we're a shambles."

Thomson (who once claimed that "I enjoy hitting a batsman more than getting him out. It doesn't worry me in the least to see a batsman hurt, rolling around screaming and blood on the pitch") is dismayed by the current attack's lack of bloodlust. "They don't even bruise anyone, they wouldn't bruise a peach," Thommo told a Sydney radio station. "I don't even know why they [English batsmen] go out with protective gear on."

The England coach, Andy Flower, is the difference between the sides, Thomson believes. "Andy Flower is a mate of mine, he's a very smart guy and a tough bloke," he said. "He would have Australia worked out. He's a great thinker and he'd be passing that on to the players."

No sour grapes from losers of the other Ashes

Adelaide might not be the most exciting city in Australia, but the City of Churches has got the rest of the country whipped when it comes to grog. It's home to the best major brewery Down Under and surrounded by wine-growing regions, chief among them the Barossa Valley, where you'll find Château Tanunda, a winery that occasionally hosts cricket matches. In 2006 England, led by Mike Gatting, crushed Australia, led by Kim Hughes. Ian Botham and David Gower, meanwhile, provided the commentary: presumably they were too busy sampling the produce to don their whites.

Bollinger may have rug pulled from under him

Growing hair on his upper lip didn't appear to help Mitchell Johnson in the first Test, so Doug Bollinger is the logical choice to replace him. This is the man who responded to male pattern baldness by acquiring what is cricket's most unconvincing toupee, in the process earning himself the nickname "Doug the Rug". Unfortunately, his bald head shows up when "Hot Spot" technology is used.

Hilfenhaus is shown no Lee-way

England fans pining for the return of Brett Lee? Given his Ashes average hovered around 40, perhaps not that surprising, but that's not why the Barmy Army want him back. The Army's Paul Winslow says it's his ability to banter with the crowd – in stark contrast to Ben Hilfenhaus – that they miss. "If you're going to field in front of the Barmy Army with no sense of humour and the ill grace to not sign a young kid's bat, you're in for a long tour," Winslow said of Hilfenhaus's behaviour during the first Test in Brisbane. "We even offered to help him with the spelling of his name, but to no avail."