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In this sort of situation, rather than going to clock him one, you might suggest that the bloke doing the impersonation was a racist expletive deleted, announce that you don’t associate with that sort of animal and depart the scene in high or medium dudgeon. Do that, and have one of your mates leak it to the press and you’ve got the other bloke attracting the newspaper headlines, and the Poison Pens of the Pommy Press may be giving him a major serve. That’d be one to the good guys, wouldn’t it?

We know that the actual Ashes series in going to be accompanied by a large quantity of what you might charitably call chirp from English players, supporters and spectators and members of the Australian side are quite likely going to cop it whenever they’re in contact with the public on or off the field. 

It’ll be definitely be needle, and will more than likely be served up in anticipation of a response, so you need to set a few team protocols in place to help avoid difficult situations, and you need to make it quite clear that these protocols must be followed.

In the past there’d been a rule that had wives, partners, girlfriends and family excluded from the tour party until the Fourth or Fifth Test of a five Test series away from home, with the sweetener of something like a week’s holiday for everyone along with a fairly low key game or two in Bermuda on the way home from the West Indies. This was, from what I can gather, common in the Border era, and didn’t go down all that well with some of the wives and girlfriends.

In that sort of situation you could set up a small social committee, charge them with preparing a social itinerary for each stop on the tour and give everyone the option of going along with the social itinerary which will probably offer an interesting variety of experiences, staying at the team hotel or, possibly, exploring this relatively harmless alternative if you’re disinclined to go out with the rest of the side and have picked up a dose of cabin fever. 

Relatively harmless alternatives might include going out to eat with someone from the opposition, but that sort of thing should have a strict curfew, if it’s allowed at all. Indeed, in a couple of series under Border and Waugh any form of fraternisation with the Old Enemy was strictly verboten

Didn’t matter if your best mate from the stint you spent playing county cricket was the best man at your wedding, is your brother-in-law and the godfather of your first born son, if he’s a member of the Pommy team you were to walk past him as if he wasn’t there.

There are plenty of examples of ways to unsettle the opposition by seemingly innocuous actions. 

One could point to the old Fred Trueman practice of lobbing in the other side’s dressing room before the start of a day’s play and enumerating the number of scalps he’ll be collecting with the ball. You might think of this as harmless banter, but it’s not the sort of thing the opening batsman wants to hear when he’s putting the pads on and it’s coming from the bloke you’re going to be facing in the very near future.

You’re possibly better off thinking about your own innings rather than trying to tune out the bowler’s suggestions regarding his forthcoming bowling analysis.

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 © Ian Hughes 2014