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What a fine mess English cricket finds itself in. Yet for supporters of a certain age, the last two months in Australia have just been a return to normal service.

Dominic Lawson: Cricket has never been just cricket

Fans are intensely idealistic about the game they love; but many players see what they do as simply the grind of earning a crust for themselves and their families

Can Strauss mastermind a final act of resistance?

Famous series victory awaits England if they can thwart fierce South African attack

England 'lucky' to escape ball-tampering charges

Former England captain Michael Vaughan believes England were fortunate to get away without official sanction over the 'ball-tampering' row, but predecessor Michael Atherton has criticised South Africa for over-reacting.

Angus Fraser: Batting buddies were a net loss in my day

It worked for Panesar, but when batsmen mentor tail-enders, sparks can fly

England hit form but Australia lie in wait

Andrew Strauss may be right to believe that winning cricket matches is the ideal preparation for winning more, but if he thinks that a 2-0 whitewash of the West Indies is anything more than a useful warm-up for the Ashes, he need only take a look around his county dressing room.

'I've knuckled down, so now let me play,' pleads Harmison

Stephen Harmison last night pleaded with the England selectors to pick him for tomorrow's crucial third Test against South Africa. When Harmison was dropped by England on their tour of New Zealand many believed he had made his last international appearance, but the débâcle of Headingley and a desperate desire to triumph in a must-win Test have encouraged the selectors to return to their former enforcer in the hope that he can rediscover the form that made him the most feared fast bowler in the world.

Paul Collingwood: I am always under pressure. Everyone always said I was not good enough

The run-out controversy against New Zealand last month has capped a difficult year for Paul Collingwood but, out of form and with his Test place under threat, he tells Glenn Moore that he is confident he can respond in typically belligerent fashion

Alan Dargin: Inventor of rock'n'roll didgeridoo

The Australian yirdaki (didgeridoo) player Alan Dargin invented a uniquely fast, powerful, non-traditional style, dubbed "rock'n'roll didgeridoo". At his favourite busking site on Sydney's Circular Quay, he was a familiar figure to tourists and locals alike for two decades. He recorded five albums with various colleagues and travelled widely outside Australia, performing in the US, Japan and Europe, in 1993 playing the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. His most widely seen appearance was as an actor, however, with a cameo role in the 1994 movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Eriksson set to defy Ferguson on return of Rooney

Sven Goran Eriksson had a serious dispute with Sir Alex Ferguson over Wayne Rooney's fitness on Wednesday and he is now prepared to defy the Manchester United manager once again - and the advice of the country's leading orthopaedic surgeon - by risking the player in the group stages of the World Cup finals.

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