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Cricket: the Ashes Live

Wed Nov 20, 11pm-8am, Sky Sports 2

If it feels like just a few weeks since stumps were drawn on England’s latest monstering of Australia, then that’s because it is. So has the novelty of back-to-back Ashes series stolen any of the magic of this most eagerly anticipated of cricketing contests? Well, maybe a little – part of the piquancy of the Ashes is that it usually takes place no more regularly than any other Test series and it’s to be fervently hoped that the two cricket boards concerned don’t simply decide that this is a cash cow ripe to be drained dry.

Even so, no amount of over-familiarity can rob the Ashes – and particularly the first day of the Ashes – of its often almost unbearable tension. It’s a cliché and an oversimplification to say that the opening exchanges set the tone for the whole series but, as Steve Harmison will reluctantly testify, they can be pretty significant.

So with that in mind, spare a thought for England’s Michael Carberry who, as we wrote this, looked like a nailed-on certainty to open the batting with Alastair Cook and earn his second Test cap at the age of 33. Likely to be much closer than recent clashes between the two teams and certain to be enthralling.