News The tone in the Sky Sports commentary box these days is like a dressing-room banter free-for-all

The first session of the First Test has often proved a pivotal passage of play in Ashes series Down Under. Even the first ball; Steve Harmison’s wide to second slip in 2006, or Michael Slater smashing Phil DeFreitas through cover point for four in 1994. It tends to “set the tone”, as the pundits like to say – and the tone in the Sky Sports commentary box these days is like a dressing-room banter free-for-all.

Masterly Batting: 100 Great Test centuries, by Patrick Ferriday & Dave Wilson

Two hundreds this week by England batsmen in the warm-up games before the Ashes series starts in Brisbane on 21 November. But they will soon be forgotten, whereas to score a Test century is to be remembered forever.

James Anderson during England practice on Wednesday

Ashes 2013: Former pace bowler Bob Willis happy to be overtaken by James Anderson ‘the magician’

James Anderson’s 10 wickets in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge showed he is England’s “magician”, according to the former pace bowler Bob Willis. His spellbinding deliveries could oust Willis from the No 2 spot in the list of England’s top Test wicket-takers at Lord’s over the next five days.

Jimmy Anderson had reached a triple-century of Test wickets, a fellow member of the 300 club was predicting he would take a further 150 for England

James Anderson: Plenty to come as King of Swing joins the 300 club

Anderson joins elite England few and is backed by Botham to reach more milestones

James Anderson of England celebrates dismissing Peter Fulton of New Zealand to take his 300th test match wicket

James Anderson takes 300th Test wicket

Bowler joins Fred Trueman, Bob Willis and Ian Botham by reaching his triple-century of Test victims

Sir Ian Botham has been in town this week

On the Front Foot: How cricket especially likes to keep things in the family

When Hamish Rutherford steps out for New Zealand at Dunedin on Wednesday he will be the 47th player whose father also played Test cricket. The game has a long tradition of keeping it in the family that shows no sign of fading.

Old friends are reunited but England fail to click in ODI opener against New Zealand

New Zealand 259-7 England 258 (New Zealand win by three wickets)

New Zealand's Brendon McCullum, right, salutes the crowd as he walks off with Martin Guptill after defeating England by three wickets

Alistair Cook praises New Zealand duo

England were ambushed by 'wounded soldier' Martin Guptill as New Zealand won the first one-day international by three wickets.

Alastair Cook: The England captain has reached 23 Test hundreds at 27 years of age

Praise pours in for 'amazing' Alastair Cook

Captain breaks 73-year record for England centuries to earn plaudits from across the cricketing world

'Clearly, we’re going to have a look at selection. We might have got it wrong” Alastair Cook, England captain

Alastair Cook: Everyone’s got to have a look at themselves to turn series around

The heroic captain knew it was not enough and he knew where it had all gone wrong. Alastair Cook made 176 from 374 balls but it was a first innings that in total mustered only 15 runs more which sent England plummeting to defeat.

Stuart Broad

Sir Ian Botham hits back at Stuart Broad after Twitter rant at England critics

Broad took to Twitter this morning to take a swipe at "too many ex playing 'experts' being negative" about England

<b>Aston Villa 2-4 Chelsea </b><br/>
Aston Villa fans give a standing ovation during the 19th minute in support of club captain Stiliyan Petrov who was diagnosed with acute leukemia last week.

Stiliyan Petrov pays visit to Aston Villa training ground

Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov has paid his first visit to the club's training ground since being diagnosed with acute leukaemia and is in "good spirits", according to first-team coach Gordon Cowans.

JAMES ANDERSON: The England fast bowler dropped two catches on day one at Galle

Accurate Anderson first to pass the 250 mark since Botham

To be spoken of in the same breath as Brian Statham is an accolade few deserve. Statham was one of the greatest fast bowlers who ever lived. Jimmy Anderson deserves it.

Diary: Labour plan Mensch seat grab

Those who, like me, have grown used to Louise Mensch, Conservative MP for Corby, appearing in their Select Committee daydreams may be concerned to learn that Labour is keen to win her seat back. Corby is a marginal, which Mensch snatched from Labour's Phil Hope by fewer than 2,000 votes last year. And last week Labour selected its new candidate, Andy Sawford, son of another former Labour MP. This is very early in the electoral cycle for a constituency party to pick its champion. I do hope her local challenger won't distract Mrs Mensch from her pursuit of Piers Morgan and/or the writing of her next racy novel.

County round-up: Pyrah plays Botham role 30 years to day

The challenge for the writer here was to resist making any strained references to Headingley 1981 on the 30th anniversary of one of Test cricket's most remarkable comebacks but Yorkshire made it impossible. Moreover, no contrivance was necessary.

It was 30 years ago today: England surely must lose but Beefy and Bob prove that miracles do happen

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