The Calvin Report: Anonymous Aussies fill space before main business at Champions Trophy

The focus was on the tourists, on day one of what will be a 66-day war, but only three of Saturday's team are likely to be in the side for the first Test, at Trent Bridge

Imposter alert. A stag party from Toowoomba, purporting to be the Australian cricket team, are at large in the shires. They were last seen at Edgbaston yesterday, when they gave England an approximation of a game.

Their captain goes by the name of George Bailey, Google George to his friends. He's a nice enough sort, but, as he says, "I'm just in charge of hoping the coin lands the right way, really." He scored 55 in an admirably adhesive innings, but the legends of Benaud, Border and Bradman are safe, for the time being.

There's a vaguely familiar figure named Mitchell Johnson. His idea of convict chic is a hairstyle which appears to be modelled on that of an Appalachian swamp-dweller, and a human relationship strategy which seems to be based on that of a Glaswegian nightclub bouncer.

He kissed the badge on his baggy yellow jumper, which woke the chaps in the Hollies Stand from their early afternoon slumbers, and brought a pair of Mr Blobbys wobbling back from the bar. He then yapped at the umpires and exchanged pleasantries with Tim Bresnan. He did not give the impression he was suggesting names for the Yorkshire bowler's new-born.

The rest of his mates would blend in, at the bar where nobody knows your name. Mitch Marsh? Surely a buckaroo from Dingo, Central Queensland. Nathan Coulter-Nile? Got to be a junior solicitor from Brisbane. Clint McKay? Has to be a copper miner from Mount Isa. Xavier Doherty? A country curate from Rockhampton.

Rest assured they will return to semi-obscurity when things get serious, and the little urn becomes a big deal. The Champions Trophy is a decent diversion, with a limited shelf life, but it pales alongside the real thing. The gas burners, and drummers dressed as Grenadier Guards, merely emphasise its ephemeral nature.

Admittedly, certain traditions were observed on a day of high cloud and intermittent sunshine. The capacity crowd comfortably exceeded their collective allocation of alcoholic units. The tiresome exhibitionists of the Barmy Army consequently blended in with cross-dressing tennis players, assorted time lords, several sets of dwarfs and an infestation of Super Marios.

Despite the fancy-dress parade, and the shameless baiting of Johnson when he batted, it was hardly an Ashes-style bearpit, where the humour is barbed and the belligerence is a genuflection towards tradition. The onset of a Mexican wave at precisely 1.20 pm signalled boredom with England's regimented approach to the 50-over game.

England batted with the freedom of battery hens, and the complacency of a bureaucrat, counting down the days until the index-linked pension kicks in. They protected what conventional wisdom suggested was a marginal total with the diligence of jailers at a high-security prison.

The greater focus was on the Australians, on day one of what will be a 66-day war. Only three of yesterday's team, Shane Watson, David Warner and Phil Hughes, are likely to be in the side for the first Test, at Trent Bridge from 10 July. Two more, James Faulkner and Mitchell Starc, are in the Ashes squad.

Faulkner, the Tasmanian left-armer, made the more favourable impression yesterday. He changed his pace intelligently, and hung around at the crease, to score an unbeaten 54 as the death throes were observed. It was all a little insubstantial and unconvincing.

Say what you like about the mythology of the Baggy Green, it has an authenticity and dignity beyond the Baseball Yellow number which, aligned to some bewilderingly baggy short sleeved sweaters, made the Australians look like a collection of children's entertainers. Bailey's Ban-anas, perhaps. They certainly lack the taut body language and assertive habits of their forebears. Take away Johnson, who will fill the role of pantomime villain in the unlikely event of his receiving a late call up for the Ashes and they are just too nice.

We knew where we were when Ian Chappell played the role of cricket's Tony Soprano. We feared the worst when Steve Waugh's Untouchables swaggered into view. We didn't like the odds when Punter Ponting led his team to an Ashes whitewash in Australia in 2006-07.

Those Australian teams were ruthless, to a fault. They pressed their boots on an opponents' windpipe, and applied pressure until the inevitable expiration. Intriguingly, intensity became a crime in the eyes of a certain section of the Australian media when Ponting was unashamedly hard-nosed.

It is still tempting to cling to the hope Ponting may be the missing link in this Ashes summer. Whispers that Michael Clarke's back injury, sustained in India, may preclude his presence in the forthcoming Test series poses a question the Australian selectors may not care to answer. Who leads in his absence?

Clarke has responded phenomenally to the captaincy. Before he succumbed to immobility he was batting brilliantly. Concerns that his condition is chronic suggest the curse of professional sport, that a man's talent is worthless if he is betrayed by his body, may have struck again.

Ponting is a modern, peripatetic cricketer. Since making his tearful farewell from the Australian team, he has won the Sheffield Shield with Tasmania and the IPL with the Mumbai Indians. He has hitched a lift on Surrey's gravy train and will pick up more easy money in yet another 20-20 tournament in the Caribbean next month.

Bailey is a stop gap, so don't bother consulting your internet search engine. Brad Haddin, Clarke's vice captain, is next in line to take over. An Australian team without a credible leader? Bring it on.

Suggested Topics
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice