Recently married Henry Blofeld says that England could be on the end of an Ashes series whitewash if they are beaten in the second Test.
The wait is almost over for the start of the Ashes series in Australia. Here's our preview of the pivotal First Test in Brisbane.
Essex fast bowler Reece in line for PCA's Young Player of the Year
England captain Alastair Cook has been warned he'll be facing a fired up Australian attack in the upcoming Ashes.
Aussie fast bowler Mitchell Johnson was speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald saying the Kangaroos will be targeting Cook and fellow batsman Jonathan Trott.
Asked about Essex batsman Cook, Johnson said:
"If I can get a few of those rearing balls towards the ribs or those throat balls, and if he gets in the way of it, that's his own fault.
"You'd rather get the wicket more than anything; you get a lot of joy out of that when you get a player like that out.
"I have a look at last summer, and (Sri Lanka's Kumar) Sangakkara was an example. I've busted his finger, and he's one of their best players.
"So they were one short, and I got a couple of those in the middle order. If you can't get them out, that's the second option."
Cricket has often been called a cottage industry with traditional bat making companies like Hunts County in Huntingdon remaining true to their roots and continuing to turn out products using craftsmanship from over the centuries.
But player safety is one area that has developed considerably, particularly batting helmets, and with its product about to appear in the ashes series down under in a couple of weeks time, a small British company is hoping to make it big on the world stage.
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Monty Panesar has taken to Twitter to express his delight at signing for Essex.
The England bowler agreed a two-year contract with the club earlier this afternoon, following a successful loan spell last season.
Essex have completed the signing of England spin bowler Monty Panesar on a two-year deal.
Panesar, who's currently with the England squad in Australia ahead of the upcoming Ashes series, enjoyed a successful loan spell with the county last season.
During that time, the 31-year-old took 14 wickets in six LV= County Championship games.
Speaking to the club's official website, Panesar said that his previous positive experience with Essex had been pivotal in his decision:
"I loved playing for Essex last season. In the short time I was there, I was made to feel very welcome, both in the team and around the Club.
"I will always remember how the supporters and members gave me a heart-warming round of applause when I first came on to bowl for them at Colchester last August. It helped me to feel respected and loved as a cricketer after experiencing a challenging time in my life.
"I am determined to play my part in inspiring the team to be successful in all competitions. I want to help the club build towards the kind of success they enjoyed in its glory days under legendary captains Keith Fletcher and Graham Gooch."
Northamptonshire have signed Australian fast bowler Jackson Bird as their overseas player for next season.
The 26-year-old, who played in one Ashes test match this summer, will be eligible to play 10 LV= County Championship and seven t20 games for the county in 2014.
Bird will be the final arrival at the County Ground before the start of next season, with the club having also secured deals to sign Maurice Chambers and Graeme White since gaining promotion to Division One of the County Championship.
Northamptonshire have re-signed former spinner Graeme White from Nottinghamshire on a two-year deal.
The 26-year-old began his career at the County Ground before moving to Trent Bridge in 2009.
However, the left-arm spinner had two loan spells back at Northamptonshire last season, and has now committed to the club on a permanent basis.
White told the club's official website that he was happy to be back:
"I feel the time is now right for a new challenge, so I'm delighted to be returning back to Northants CCC and excited by the opportunity to compete for a club whom I represented since their academy level.
"Northants have shown this summer that they possess a potent squad of cricketers, which I am thrilled to be joining and look forward to pursuing yet more silverware going into 2014."
Essex all-rounder Graham Napier has been rewarded for his fine form with a new two-year contract.
The fresh deal will keep the 33-year-old at the County Ground until 2015.
Napier enjoyed a memorable season with both bat and ball for Essex, hitting over 700 runs and taking 51 wickets in 17 first-class games.
He also hit the headlines back in June when he took four wickets in four balls in a YB40 match against Surrey.
Essex overseas star Gautam Gambhir is back with the county.
Gambhir will be back at the club ahead of the trip to face Kent on Wednesday. He had returned home to India after a sudden death in the family.
Northamptonshire Steelbacks seamer Azharullah has signed a new contract with the county.
The 29-year-old enjoyed an impressive debut season at the County Ground, especially in the Friends Life t20 where he finished as the competition's leading wicket taker with 27 dismissals as the Steelbacks lifted the trophy.
That form reportedly attracted the interest of other counties, but the Pakistan-born bowler has now ended speculation over his future by penning a two-year contract.
Speaking to the club's official website, Azharullah said that he was looking forward to a bright future with Northamptonshire.
"I’m really happy to sign a new contract with the club. I have really enjoyed my time here so far. I would like to thank all the fans, coaches and everyone connected with the club that have made this all possible for me.
"I am excited about where the club is going and what we can achieve with the group of players we have.
"We have won one trophy and hopefully we can get promoted this season too. I want to repay the faith the club has shown in me and I have a desire to keep getting better, and help bring more silverware to Northants.”