Old enemies ready for battle but Ashes series is much too close to call | Vic Marks

England’s World Cup triumph has meant a shorter, lower-key buildup to a series against Australia that promises melodrama

This is the summer that keeps on giving. It is debatable whether fans are ready for another gut-wrenching, umbrella-handle-chewing sequence of cricket matches, let alone the protagonists in the middle, who have rollercoasted as far as the final and semi-final of a World Cup, which came to its sensational climax little more than a fortnight ago. But the Ashes are here after a necessarily truncated buildup.

There has not been enough time to squeeze in all the usual hype. The prospect of 5-0 has been only briefly circulated and no one is too bothered by that; it is such a well-worn path; there has been little talk of headbutting the line, elite honesty or the magic of the baggy green, though Cameron Bancroft did take the precaution of packing his Australian cap when setting off to play for Durham, a wise move as it turns out.

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