Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barmy Army Limber Up for Ashes as Touts Make a [Pounds Sterling]500 Killing

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barmy Army Limber Up for Ashes as Touts Make a [Pounds Sterling]500 Killing

Article excerpt

Byline: RICHARD EDWARDS

ASHES tickets are being sold on a booming black market for [pounds sterling]500 - 60 times their original cost.

It is more than touts charged for England World Cup matches in Germany this summer.

Only hours remain before England begin their defence of the Ashes - in one of cricket's most anticipated series of all time.

The scramble for tickets is mounting as an expected army of 50,000 England fans descend on Australia for the series.

The first Test in Brisbane, starting tomorrow, is a sell-out, and the atmosphere is reaching fever pitch.

Tickets costing [pounds sterling] 8 were snapped up at a rate of 10 per second. Touts in the Queensland capital are now asking [pounds sterling]500.

Up to 15,000 England fans are expected in Brisbane and a quarter of the Gabba stadium could be English.

Thousands gathered overnight at the Pig 'n' Whistle pub in central Brisbane, home to England's " Barmy Army". Manager Arjuna Rupesinghe said: "It's a sea of English, they're rolling in.

We are filling up from morning until evening. The weather has been 32C and 75 per cent humidityso these boys know they've hit Brisbane."

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting today said the Barmy Army are the "best supporters and followers in the world".

England captain Andrew Flintoff added: "It's been amazing. I walked round Brisbane with the family yesterday and I couldn't believe the number of people I bumped into from Preston (where he was born). It's almost like I'm at home. The fans are as excited as we are."

Queensland state chiefs believe England fans will boost the local economy by more than [pounds sterling] 8million - mostly in sales of beer.

Flight after flight is landing from the UK with more supporters. Hotels are all fully booked.

England have not won a series in Australia since 1986/87 - the days of Ian Botham, David Gower and Mike Gatting. But England fans are optimistic.

James Layton, 27, a Londonbased IT consultant on a placement in Australia, said: "We can win this. …

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