The Ashes is dependably cricket's most eagerly anticipated Test series and that rings especially true this year, when Steve Smith and David Warner don their baggy greens for the first time since the Cape Town cheating scandal. I've been lucky to cover a lot of cricket in recent years but few contests can compare to an Ashes.
The sandpaper scandal was telling in many ways. I think the nation-wide outrage, angst and disbelief said plenty about the shocking incident but also why cricket is Australia's national sport. Tests between Australia and England, which continue to attract sold-out crowds in an era when fans around the world are otherwise largely turning their back on the longest format, have also regularly produced similar reminders. Julie Bishop, Australia's Foreign Minister at the time, joked in 2015 that revoking players' citizenship crossed her mind after they were all out for 60 in Nottingham and lost the urn.
It's hard to convey what life on tour is like - exhilarating and exhausting, long days but lots of fun. I've filed breaking news from grounds, hotel lobbies, Ubers, train stations, foothpaths, airport floors, restaurants and pubs. There are downsides to living out of a suitcase and working every day for a long stretch away (England hosting the World Cup means this will be a 'short' Ashes, squeezing five Tests into Aug1-Sept16). However, the upsides are obviously immense and often unforgettable.
Press boxes can feature some of the best seats in the house, right behind the bowler's arm. For cricket tragics, it is hard to imagine a better office. Many of my fellow cricket journalists are now lifelong friends, while my job has taken me to incredible places that I may never have visited otherwise. I relish every tour and this is no different, here's hoping the rain stays away and all five Tests live up to the hype.
Robert Forsaith is a sports reporter for AAP, mainly covering Cricket. Follow Rob on Twitter.
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