Ashes Diary: Will Ricky follow McGrath's example?

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The Independent Online

When England won back the Ashes at The Oval in 2005, the crowd taunted Glenn McGrath about his pre-series prediction of a 5-0 triumph for the tourists. Sportingly, he smiled and held up two fingers on both hands to suggest his prediction had changed a little but Australia would still have the last laugh. It's hard to believe Ricky Ponting will try something similar at Sydney, but for the record here's what he had to say back in August when asked if his side could win the Ashes 5-0: "It's absolutely possible, there's no reason why not. It's all in our hands. It's how well we play and how well we take charge of different situations. We've learnt from the mistakes that we've made."

Warne's turn puts Panesar in shade

Shane Warne once accused Monty Panesar of having played the same Test 30 times – ie, he hadn't progressed mentally at all in his international career – so it was nice to see him giving the Englishman a few pointers in the MCG nets ahead of the final day of the fourth Test. It might not have been the inspiring session Monty would have hoped for, however: Warne, even dressed in suit and tie, achieved the sort of turn the Sussex tweaker would kill for.

Success is name of the game for PM

Well look who's jumping on the bandwagon. David Cameron has sent his congratulations to the England team. "Retaining the Ashes for the first time in almost a quarter of a century marks a very special end to the year for sports fans and a great late Christmas present for the country," said a Cameron statement. "I look forward to welcoming them to Downing Street when they return." Let's just hope he remembers Paul Collingwood's name this time.