And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?

Ah the Ashes. You can't beat it. All day basking in the sunshine, supping the amber nectar and the Barmy Army juxtaposing Jerusalem with Swanny Super-over. Except it's all a bit harder when the series is Down Under. We usually get battered, and because we are generally losing we struggle to stay awake to watch it. Still, with 2006/07 banished to the history books, we're attempting to wipe Steve Harmison's first ball from memory, and looking forward to England's best chance since, well, the last Ashes.


GOT HIM!

So, as we embark on another journey of hope, expectation and confusion (you're never going to grasp why cloud cover is causing the ball to swing from TMS at 2am) we're bringing you a bunch of sites that can help guide you through the most exciting sporting event since the Ryder Cup. It's been a big year.

Blog it for Six

A blog from cricket journalist Craig Bannister, brings you great insight and analysis on issues surrounding the Ashes - including pitch maps and Hawkeye analysis. You can keep up to speed via the Twitter and Facebook links. 

Ashes prediction: 3-1 to England, with a draw at the Adelaide Oval.
Key man:
Graeme Swann - "If the ball isn’t turning, then look for him to exploit the extra bounce on the Aussie wickets, whilst still maintaining his wicket taking drift. With Australia struggling to fill the void left by Shane Warne, England’s Swann will be the man to make the difference, not just in the spin department but in the Ashes."

Cricket Chin Music

Excellent looking site featuring regular interviews with the Ashes squad members. The blog section highlights where the match-ups are going to be and explores them in depth, while there is also a great features section.

Ashes prediction: 2-1 to England
Key man: Graeme Swann - "Between two very evenly matched sides the biggest discrepancy is in the spin department. Australia lack a quality spin bowler whereas England have the best in the world. Swann has replaced Andrew Flintoff as England's talisman and he could well prove the difference."

Test Match Sofa

Billed as 'the alternative cricket commentary' this could be the best way to keeping up to date with all the live Ashes action online if you can't watch it yourself. Doing what everyone wants to, and sitting in front of the television with a few beers and a microphone, indulging in banter. TMS with swearing.

Ashes Prediction: 3-1 to England (obviously)
Key man: Ricky Ponting - "The more terrible captaincy decisions he makes, the greater the chances for England - and he will make a few but HOW MANY? That is the question."

Cricket With Balls

This blog is titled to distinguish itself from the insect they say, it features 'balls profiles' on players, as well as funny posts from the writer who is over in enemy territory this winter. Podcasts are available, along with the promise of videos from Australia too.

Ashes prediction: 2-1 to Australia
Key man: Marcus North - "Not because he is some superstar or even some adequate test player, but because if he makes runs, Australia will have their middle order back, and if he doesn’t, England will have some good times."

For those who like a flutter, once you've got up to date with who's in form and who's hopelessly out of touch, there are a few spread bet specials that might interest you like Haddin Nuff or Brazen Hussey on Spreadex - it's always nice to make some money out of Aussie failings too.