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.

Interview: By George!

Why sex, Surrealism and Bessie Smith still work for George Melly. By John Walsh

Ian Botham hits back at legal claim

Ian Botham, the former England cricket captain, yesterday hit back at his former solicitors after they served a writ on him for allegedly not paying them pounds 100,000 in fees.

Botham finds himself on a sticky wicket

Former England cricket captain Ian Botham yesterday hit back at his former solicitors after they served a writ on him for allegedly not paying them pounds 100,000 in fees.

Ice hockey: From a golden past to a brand new ice age

Andrew Baker hears why the hero of Seoul, Ian Taylor, is coming into the cold

Cricket: Pain of life without the magic

Andrew Longmore finds Dominic Cork is fighting hard to recapture his sparkle

Cricket: Hollioake a vision of the future perfect

Stephen Brenkley watches the younger brother prove himself in the Test arena

CV; MARK BORKOWSKI Founder, Mark Borkowski Press and PR

I left school in 1977. I had university places but I didn't get the grades I needed at A-level, so I decided I'd work for a year and then retake.

Legal fat cats plead their case for the cream

Barristers and legal aid campaigners reacted with anger yesterday after the Lord Chancellor succeeded in turning a House of Lords debate about a massive increase in court fees into an attack on "fat cat" QCs who earn a million a year.

HOWZAT!

Should rain stop play during this weekend's Second Test match between England and Australia, why not bail out at the largest ever Ashes exhibition at London's Australia House. The organisers are clearly hoping that England's success in the First Test will guarantee a good turn-out and have pulled out all the stops to assemble an impressive collection of memorabilia. Highlights include Don Bradman's blazer and gloves, the bat used by RE Forster when he scored 287 runs on his test debut in 1902, and Max Walker's enormous boots. In addition, there's footage of Ian Botham's unbeaten 149 at Headingley in 1981, and Shane Warne's (left) first-ever delivery in an Ashes Test - "the ball from hell" which sent Mike Gatting into a spin during the 1993 Edgbaston Test. Meanwhile, cricket nerds can keep tabs on the live action from Lord's, via the Net, or alternatively play a blinder on the latest interactive games.

Newport back in swing

Anyone glancing at the averages going into the latest round of championship matches would have seen a familiar name back on top of the bowling section - after a year of injury torment.

Cricket: Shambles for sorry Surrey

Essex 347 and 302 Surrey 280 and 222-9 Essex win by 147 runs

The letter Aitken wrote to confuse

The former Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken admitted in the High Court yesterday that he was "guilty" of "sharp-editing" a letter to the Cabinet Secretary about a stay at the Paris Ritz Hotel owned by Mohamed Al Fayed.

40 not out for the cricketing team that stood test of time

The late Brian Johnston - patrician cricket commentator and lover of home-made cakes supplied by a devoted listening public - once described the Test Match Special commentary style as the outpourings of a group of friends who had come along to watch the cricket and enjoy themselves.

Cricket: Imminent return for Cork

Dominic Cork is hoping to launch his comeback in the next couple of weeks after undergoing intensive treatment for a troublesome groin injury.

Cricket: ECB to break with tradition by appointing Graveney

English cricket's chairman of selectors is named today. Derek Pringle reports
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