Franchise friendships take the sting out of Ashes sledging

International rivals play together around the world, so flashpoints this summer will be less nasty – and cricket is all the better for it

The Times

‘It is a big showdown this week” said the Glamorgan Twitter feed before their County Championship meeting with Sussex, which pitted Marnus Labuschagne against his Australia team-mate Steve Smith.

And it really was marvellous to see the world’s first and third-ranked Test batsmen scoring runs in a county match — a second division match, no less — with Ollie Robinson, Cheteshwar Pujara and Michael Neser showing their international class too. The likes of Sussex’s James Coles and Glamorgan’s Kiran Carlson also proved their worth in such company, with Robinson’s injury scare the only downside of a contest of rare quality.

It had also been fantastic to witness the two fast bowlers with the most Test wickets ever, James Anderson (685) and Stuart Broad (576), facing