Ashes Diary: Thommo: Keep brakes off bowling and sledging

Given all this talk of sledging, it was only a matter of time before the Bankstown big mouth himself, Jeff Thomson, weighed in. And now he has. Thommo, inevitably, believes the Aussies should keep on sledging. "It's all part and parcel of the game," Thomson said. "You are just trying to upset the guy's concentration. You're out there for six hours, you get bored... you've got to say something."

The man who terrified most of the English team on the infamous 1974-75 tour also believes the home side should resist the temptation to call up a spinner. "Don't worry about a spinner. Just keep the quicks," Thomson told the audience at a lunch in Melbourne. "I think we can frighten the stuffing [or some such]--- out of those blokes."

English fans worried that Thomson might be right should take solace in the fact that he's not always on the mark. Take Shane Watson, for example. "I bagged him. He's lifted his game, Watson has been fantastic," he admitted.

Inevitably, Thomson couldn't resist the urge to talk up his own exploits. When he was asked about how fast he bowled, he said: "They came out pretty quick. I hit a lot of sight screens on the full. I wanted to be the quickest and scare everybody and I think I achieved that."

Sydney outlook dampens

Perhaps it's not the Melbourne weather we should worry about: the long-range forecast for the Sydney Test isn't too crash hot either, as they put it down there. According to weatherzone.com.au, there is a greater than 75 per cent chance of rain in Sydney on days three to five of the fifth Test and a "low" risk, 25 to 50 per cent, of rain on the opening two days.

Warne weighed down

Is there a single fast-food product that Shane Warne does not endorse Down Under? He was at it again yesterday, appearing in a charity match in a Victoria country town, Lethbridge, in a shirt adorned with the logo of a famous burger joint. Perhaps, though, he should lay off fatty foods: his bowling looked distinctly less impressive than we recall. No wonder he decided against a comeback.

Four warning for Aussies

Thommo might want Australia to pick four fast men but history suggests that might not be the smartest plan. Not since 1958 have Australia won a Test at the MCG with four seamers: that summer, they picked Alan Davidson, Ray Lindwall, Ian Meckiff and Gordon Rorke. Even then – and putting aside suspicions over Meckiff's action – they had Richie Benaud, a spinning all-rounder in the side. Can Steve Smith fill those shoes?

Swann gets his football fix

He looked a bit glum at the conclusion of the Perth Test match so it's good to see that Graeme Swann has recovered some of his cheek. After a weekend on which much of English football fell victim to the weather, he tweeted: "Good news football fans. The snow and ice hasn't stopped all this week's action. The Perth vs Adelaide game is underway."

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