What makes the Ashes so special? The Ashes is the highlight for any cricket fan. The size and importance of the series towers over other tours. As an Englishman we want to beat the Aussies more than anything. Growing up in the late 80s and 90s this seemed like a fantastical idea, but it’s become reality in the last five years. However, we still have a poor record in Australia over the last 20 years so hopefully this’ll be the tour to correct that.

What’s the atmosphere like? There’s always a special buzz, this time more than ever as it really could go either way. It should be a great atmosphere at the grounds; hopefully we’ll have a big section of singing England fans together to make a lot of noise. Adelaide in particular is good fun as we can congregate on the grass bank. If the Barmy Army are in good voice I think it lifts the whole ground. The Aussies enjoy the banter and try to sing a few back as well, generally it’s all good natured fun.

How painful was the last tour? The last Ashes tour was (cricket-wise) a demoralising experience! Melbourne I remember being particularly miserable. The weather was disappointingly English, Andrew Symonds got a big score when we should have got him out, and we got thrashed by an innings.  

Which players are most sociable? Paul Collingwood always gets stuck in and has a couple of the songs down to a fine art!

Favourite Ashes moment? Got to be 2005. Probably Trent Bridge when we were wobbling (Warne doing his stuff again), chasing a modest total and then Hoggy hit that perfect cover drive for four. Unexpected moment of true class!  

England’s ultimate Ashes legend? Botham or Freddie. Both seemed to raise their game for the Aussies, and the Aussies feared both. Flintoff’s last great act was to rip through the Aussies at Lords last year, despite being barely able to walk. Class. I have a feeling the stage could be set for Kevin Pietersen this time, if he can rediscover his form.

Weren’t you thrown out of the Gabba in Brisbane? The police threw me out of the Gabba for “disturbing the peace” with my trumpet. We got the feeling that the Aussies didn’t want the English taking over the ground and making it feel like a home game, so I’m an obvious target. There was some suggestion that the police didn’t like my interpretation of the Neighbours theme! I think the Aussies realise now that the trumpet doesn’t cause trouble and is generally liked by fans on both sides.

How much noise do you make? Contrary to popular myth, if you’re sitting near me you don’t get your ears blasted constantly! It loses its effect if I play all the time, and my lips wouldn’t last for seven hours anyway!

What tunes work best? The simple songs are the best for everyone to join in with, but it’s nice to keep it as varied as possible. There’s always a few songs taking the mickey out of the Aussies (Convict Colony etc) but we have a few new ones up our sleeves for this year, celebrating our recent Ashes victory and reminding Mr Ponting of the fact he has lost two Ashes series in the last five years. Plus, with the time of year there will be a few ditties written to Christmas tunes, and hopefully lots of spontaneous stuff will come out as the tour goes on.

Will England win? England need to win or draw and I think we can and will do it.  

Which England and Australia players should we look out for this time? Both sides have slightly brittle batting line-ups and will look for their captains to lead from the front by scoring heavily. Fingers crossed KP can rediscover his old self (I have a hunch he will) and Swann can continue his fantastic form of the last year. The seamers need to do some damage too, and I’m looking forward to seeing Finn bowl on Australian wickets with his height. It’ll be interesting to see which seam attack the Aussies go with, but Hilfenhaus bowled very well in England last year, and I think Mitchell Johnson will be a different prospect on pitches he’s used to bowling on (and with a ball he is used to). But overall I feel England have enough quality and fight this time to overcome Australia.