Ian Botham

Sport on TV: David Gower flies in face of all the old captains who

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.

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.

The Gabba: History against England in the first Test

In one of the stories about the origins of the informal name of the Brisbane cricket ground it means “fight talk place.” That is apparently the translation of the word Woolloongabba, actually the name of the suburb where the ground stands and known to all and sundry as The Gabba.