Ponting seeks out Barmy Army

The combination of the plunging British pound and the economic downturn in the United Kingdom have thrown into question the number of cricket followers expected to make the long trip in four months’ time.


But the Australian skipper hoped there was a healthy amount of support for the tourists in the five-Test series starting November 25 in Brisbane.

“I have said for a long time even they booed me at every opportunity last year, they are the best bunch of supporters that we play in front of for the fact they are so passionate about the game and they love supporting their own,” he said.

“Whatever they generally do towards us is normally in a light-hearted manner.

“I think last time there was talk of being up to 50,000 Barmy Army supporters if you like.

“We will see how this year pans out.

“It certainly adds to the contest I guess and I know the English guys love playing in front of their crowds and hopefully at some stage we can outnumber them with Australian fans.

“Let’s hope that a great deal of English do come out to Australia and support what I think will be a great series.”

Asked if there were any of the Barmy Army’s songs that he minded, Ponting quipped: “Depends how personal they get.”

The bullish Barmy Army came out in massive numbers for the start of the 2006/07 series but had been reduced to a mere platoon by the end of the five-Test series, won 5-0 by the home side.

The demand in Australia for tickets in this year’s Ashes series has been strong but not quite as hot as four years ago.

Barmy Army spokesman Paul Burnham still expected healthy numbers of travellers from the UK for the Ashes.

“I absolutely think demand will be at the same high level,” he said in The Guardian this week.

“Going to watch England in Australia is still so many people’s dream.

“Plus, there is a real sense of people feeling let down and excluded by profiteering at the football World Cup in South Africa.

“Quite a few people had said they would only be going to the World Cup if England reached the semi-finals. If not they were saving it up for the Ashes.”