We go through to the early hours at Greenwood in London as BT Sport launches its Ashes 2021 coverage
Sporting rivalries simply do not come bigger than The Ashes.
If you’ve got the stamina – and the licensing hours – you can show every ball bowled and every run scored as England take on Australia live on BT Sport this winter.
To get the ball rolling we headed to sports bar Greenwood in London’s Victoria to join England’s loyal – and slightly bonkers – Barmy Army to ‘enjoy’ the first day of the first test from The Gabba.
Here’s how our Ashes all-nighter played out…
11.05pm: We are in! Greenwood opens its doors to the Barmy Army and, judging by the crowd at the bar, it could be 9pm on a Friday, rather than kicking out time at many pubs across the country. The screens are on. Monty Panesar is in the house, and England’s Ashes campaign is less than an hour from getting underway.
11.31pm: Time for the toss. Hushed silence followed by mighty cheers as England win the toss and decide to have a bat.
11.56pm: Drinks are in. The pub is filled with a rousing rendition of the national anthem, and we are ready to go!
Midnight: Starc to Burns! And that is as bad as it can possibly get for England. First ball of the series and Burns’ wickets are scattered all over the Brisbane turf. It’s suddenly gone a little quieter in here…
12.04am: …but not for long! The bar is treated to its opening burst of Jerusalem as Malan’s first ball heads to the boundary for four. We need a drink…
12.18am: And we are going to get an early look at the best batsman in the world as England’s day and our night gets worse. Malan nicks off and it’s 11/2. The trumpeter keeps on trumpeting but already those notes are starting to sound a little mournful.
12.24am: The first pint of the night smashes on the floor. Ours. Not our fault. Honest.
12.31am: Urgh. Virtual silence as Root goes for an eight-ball duck. Warner snaffles the catch. England’s campaign could not have got off to a worse start but as the captain walks off nobody is leaving the bar just yet. 11/3.
1.05am: Lunch is served. Or is it tea? We are just grateful for a distraction as Stokes and Hameed try to rebuild.
1.07am: The burger is only half-eaten as Stokes goes. We’ve lost our appetite. 29/4.
1.47am: England make it to 50 without further loss! The bar erupts in joy/relief/surprise.
2am: And that is lunch. Kebab?
2.13am: Monty is up on stage to entertain the crowd. He knows what it’s like to play in Australia: “I remember getting Gilchrist out second ball at Perth and thought what’s the big fuss about Adam Gilchrist.. then in the second innings he gave me a lesson.”
And a prediction from the spin legend: “England will win the Ashes 2-1.” He reads the room better than many read his deliveries.
2.40am: The players are back on the field and the bar at Greenwood is still rammed. Can England make a fight of it in the afternoon session?
2.44am: Not by the looks of it. Hameed goes in the first over after the interval. 60/5.
3.23am: One of the biggest cheers of the night as an Aussie review is wasted. The free-scoring Buttler is not out after an appeal for caught behind. Relief all round. Pints are slowly converting into cups of coffee.
3.31am: Ton up! 100/5 might not seem a lot but two hours ago, this was the stuff dreams were made of. The landmark is suitably greeted in a still packed-out Greenwood.
3.50am: It had all been going so well (relatively speaking) until Buttler departs. Leaving England at 112/6. Starc gets another key wicket.
4.02am: The session has turned in favour of the Aussies as Pope holes out to give Green his first Test wicket. Ollie Robinson is greeted with more songs from the Barmy Army, but he’s gone five minutes later.
4.17am: Chris Woakes wakes up Greenwood (and the surrounding area) with three successive boundaries. Barmy Army back in full voice.
4.38am: Five-for for Cummins. England gone for 147. Thank the lord the bacon rolls are making their way from the kitchen to the tables.
4.51am: The room is up (and down again) for a game of heads or tails to win a signed Joe Root hat, all in aid of the Ruth Strauss Foundation. BT Sport are sitting down more quickly than we would like.
4.56am: The brollies are up! This could be good news for England… but not quite the entertainment you might be hoping for to keep you going in the early hours.
5.20am: The bar is still busy, but the outfield at the Gabba is drenched. It’s been another Ashes opener that will live long in the memory, but for us it’s time to find our way home.
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