England's preparation for the Investec Ashes series has seen them tap into the knowledge and experience of former players.
Read more: Root is now a master of all trades
This culminated on Sunday night with a team meeting led by Sir Ian Botham: a player whose Headingley heroics took place before any of the current squad were born.
Joe Root, who would later call that ground home, scratched his first mark at the crease on December 30th, 1990.
On the same day an England team poorer for Botham’s absence lost a Test in Melbourne by eight wickets having been skittled for 150 the previous day.
While Graham Gooch and Wayne Larkins contributed 112 between them, none of their teammates made more than eight as extras finished third top-scorer on 16.
Thankfully, those horror shows are a thing of the past, along with Botham’s tales of red wine and rest day debauchery.
Yet, whilst I expect Root to survive and prosper, as I said in last week’s Punter, I fear for two colleagues who also wear the White Rose.
Adam Lyth’s runs propelled Yorkshire to the County Championship last season and earned him the right to be Alastair Cook’s ninth opening partner.
But I suspect Australia’s bowlers will circle him like sharks scenting blood. His match runs, priced at 58 with Sporting Index, are a sell for me.
So too is the 65 chalked up against Gary Ballance, who has scraped 77 runs in his last six Test innings.
Lyth, of course, can rely on the guidance of Cook at the other end, as well as Botham’s advice. How long that lasts, however, is another matter.
England have actually had the higher opening partnerships in six of the last 10 Ashes Tests, including two in the recent 5-0 whitewash in Australia.
Yet I don’t see them starting well in Cardiff and have taken Betway’s 8/11 about their opponents making it five in 11.
At the risk of sounding despondent, I’m also tempted by the 11/10 about no England centuries in the first innings.
Whilst they are some way off the team of Melbourne ‘90 they are some way short of Headingley ’81 too.
- Australia highest opening partnership 8/11 with Betway
- No England century in 1st innings at 11/10 (general)
- Sell Adam Lyth match runs at 58 with Sporting Index
- Sell Gary Ballance match runs at 65 with Sporting Index