Our man Down Under, Joe Drabble, kicks off his Ashes blog by analysing Australia's controversial selection of Xavier Doherty.
Last Updated: November 22, 2010 4:08pm
Doherty & Ponting: under pressure
G'day folks and welcome to the start of what promises to be an epic six-week Ashes adventure!
Australia v England, 1st Test
11pm, Wed, Sky Sports HD1
Watch online with Sky Player
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I'll be bringing you a taste of the atmosphere from Down Under as England look to return home with the little urn for the first time since 1987. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it...
Despite the office predictions, I arrived in Australia without a) being arrested or b) instantly deported - although admittedly there were one or two Karl Pilkington-like moments of concern along the way!
I landed in Brisbane at 9am local time on Saturday and to my horror I was greeted by clouds and the odd spot of rain. This was not what I deserved after my marathon Manchester-Abu Dhabi-Singapore-Brisbane journey.
Early reports suggest Brisbane and I will get on well. It's a very cosmopolitan, laid back city with a fine array of bars and restaurants located on the river front. I can vouch for great steak and cool beer after the opening couple of days and I look forward to plenty more where that came from as the tour progresses.
Now, one of the many reasons I have come Down Under is to get away from the 'X-Factor' furore in the UK, however it appears to be following me around in the form of Australian left-arm spinner Xavier (X-Factor) Doherty.
Shortly after arriving at my Brisbane base, I discovered that Doherty had made the cut in Australia's 13-man squad for the first Test and is almost certain to play.
Let's get this straight, Doherty, who has never played Test cricket, is set to feature in the biggest series there is on the back of a first-class average of 48?! Speaking to cricket-loving Aussies, they are worried and it's great to see them panicking.
Two men in particular have voiced their displeasure at the selectors in the local press - the ever vocal Shane Warne and Terry Hauritz (father of the man making way for Doherty - Nathan).
Hauritz senior has accused the selectors of playing games with his boy and believes the selection process is in disarray. Warnie, who incidentally has his own chat show over here, has also added his two-penneth, by labelling the decision 'very harsh' on Hauritz.
Warne is doing a fantastic job for England with his pre-series criticisms of his homeland and the daggers will already be out for the selectors if the X-Factor fails his audition at the Gabba.
I'm looking forward to meeting up with the Barmy Army tomorrow as they kick off the 'Fans' Ashes' against the 'Fanatics' in a 40-over showdown at the Ian Healy Cricket Complex.
I've managed to persuade them to give me a game and I am delighted as I've heard great things about these matches - the 11.30am meet at the Pig 'N' Whistle for some pre-match nerve settlers is the intent I love to see! The TV cameras are there though and after Doherty's call up you just never know who is taking note...
I'll be talking to more England fans over the next few days and gauging how confident they all are, so make sure you stay tuned for more interactive updates.
That's all for now, for more Ashes news and pictures from Down Under follow me on Twitter @DrabsDownUnder.