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The Ashes always proves that talk is cheap

Ben Stokes
LONDON: There is something about the Australia-England rivalry that makes even the most shy and reticent of players find a voice and issue macho threats and criticism. The two sets of players rarely disappoint.
From Glenn McGrath’s regular 5-0 predictions to Michael Clarke’s heated argument with James Anderson in 2013 to Ian Botham’s decades-old feud with Ian Chappell, players from both sides are as adept at dishing out verbal bouncers as they are at bowling the real short-pitched stuff in a match.
Thanks to David Warner, it is already clear that this winter’s series will be no different. Not only that but with both side’s possessing such glaring weaknesses — think of their brittle batting line-ups for starters — we can expect the chat to possibly go up a notch or two this time around in a bid to mask the cracks. Add in the possibility of the Ben Stokes affair adding to the mix — the all-rounder (pictured) was arrested following a brawl outside a nightclub last month and may yet not play in Australia — and all the ingredients for a feisty battle are in place. If anything has been learned from the 135-year history of the famous contest, however, it is that talk is cheap.
For all the bravado of the likes of Warner the only place to prove your worth is on the pitch with bat and ball.
While the Ashes four years ago was a particularly surly show, what really mattered, and what everyone remembers is Mitchell Johnson’s stunning display of fast bowling, which more than anything was the reason why the Aussies won 5-0.
In the series before that it was Ian Bell, the archetypical quiet man, who made the most noise with his three centuries paving the way for England’s 3-0 win.
So while we can expect to be throughly entertained by the verbal battles to come, it is on the pitch, starting in Brisbane on Nov. 23 that the real business starts, and no amount of chat, macho or otherwise, can change that.