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.

Minor British Institutions: Personalised number plates

Elsewhere, personalised car number plates are considered an amusing accessory or a mark of distinction. Here, the distinction they mark is between Britons who consider them vulgar and Britons whose enjoyment of life is untroubled by such concerns, plus some splinter groups claiming them as a memory aid, or an investment (the record price is £500,000).

Vaughan Williams wins first 'Desert Island Discs' vote

'The Lark Ascending' tops poll of 25,000 would-be castaways for special edition of Radio 4 show

England seal Ashes victory to underline their supremacy

Australia 280 &amp; 281 England 644 <i>(England win Ashes series 3-1)</i>

Ashes Diary: MacGill: Hauritz superior to Beer

Michael Beer may have finally taken his first Test wicket on day three but not everyone was impressed. Stuart MacGill – a fine leg spinner whose Test chances were restricted by playing in the same era as the incomparable Shane Warne – believes he's not even the best tweaker in Australia. "I don't mean to be disrespectful," MacGill told The Sydney Morning Herald. "Based on his experience, he's acquitted himself quite well but he's not a bowler who at this stage can bowl a team out. Nathan Hauritz is far better equipped to do that. I don't think Beer gets as much work on the ball as a [Jason] Krejza or even a Hauritz on his day, and he doesn't have as much control as 'Haury' or even Xavier Doherty.

Cheating row mars England's Ashes march

Alastair Cook and Ian Bell were both beset by moments of controversy on their way to the hundreds which put England within sight of Ashes history.

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.

Angus Fraser's England Ashes XI (apologies Athers)

The former fast bowler turns selector &ndash; here is his team from his three decades of playing in and watching battles for the urn

Ian Botham predicts England victory over 'poor' Australia

Australia are a poor side and could be ripe for the picking by England in the Ashes series starting next week, according to former England skipper and all rounder Ian Botham.

On the Front Foot: Vettori's feat is special but Flintoff's an all-round superstar

What constitutes an all-rounder has been the subject of some animated discussion. It was fuelled, of course, by the retirement from Test cricket of Andrew Flintoff, having scored 3,845 runs and taken 226 wickets. Nobody, unless they also doubted that wood came from trees, would question Flintoff's authenticity as an all-rounder. But then came Daniel Vettori's achievement in becoming (in front of two men and a dog in a Test in Colombo) only the eighth player to have scored 3,000 runs and taken 300 wickets, a club of which Flintoff is not a member. Vettori is demonstrably an extremely accomplished cricketer. Captain of New Zealand, he has played international cricket for 12 years and his left-arm spin has prospered in a country which is not conducive to slow bowling. For most of the time in the second part of his career he has batted at No 8, though he has scored more runs at No 9, where he first batted, than anybody else. Vettori is not alone in being a specialist No 8 and Shane Warne, Chaminda Vaas and Shaun Pollock all to some extent made that position their own. To reach the landmark speaks of durability as well as accomplishment. Vettori, at 30, must have a chance of joining Kapil Dev as the only man so far to have scored 4,000 runs and taken 400 wickets. But it might still not be enough for him to be recalled as an all-rounder, great or otherwise.

Vettori joins elite all-rounders club

Sri Lanka 262-3 New Zealand

Ashes to Ashes, By Marcus Berkmann

One of that most peculiar of breeds, the English cricket obsessive, looks back on a lifetime of defeat

Nigel Farage: You Ask The Questions

The leader of the UK Independence Party answers your questions, such as 'Is there anyone else normal in your party?' and 'When did you last see Kilroy?'

Angus Fraser: My team-mate loved his fast cars and designer labels

He was a popular figure in the dressing room, but not many of us were really that close to him

On the front foot: Love him or loathe him, it's impossible to ignore Clarke

Forget the cricket, the week's most memorable presence in Barbados has been Giles Clarke. He has variously attempted to charm the media, thank his wide circle of supporters (9,000 emails, he claims), and mock his enemies.

A horrible who's who: Most Ludicrous Briton poll - your verdict

It was never going to be easy, deciding who or what winds us up the most. David Randall rounds up your suggestions
News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Panama
Languedoc Roussillon
Marrakesh & the Atlas Mountains
Bruges
The Jura Mountains
Dubrovnik & the Dalmatian Coast
Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits