THERE'S just no getting away from those wizards of Oz. In a week dominated by Rod Marsh and John Buchanan, Darren Lehmann scored 300 runs in the Roses match, Queenslander Matthew Hussey scored 400 in a match for Northants, Andrew Symonds hit a rapid 125 to help Kent to a victory target of 403, and Ian Harvey had match figures of eight for 43 for Gloucestershire. And none of them are anywhere near the Test team.

Oh, and Ian Stanley won the British Seniors Open golf while Jack Charlton listed Harry Kewell among the footballers he most likes to watch.

At least Aussie rugby captain John Eales is retiring from the international game, which will probably prompt several English clubs to make him a huge offer to be player-coach.

Aussie coaches are everywhere, and they're not even stereotyped any more as you could hardly have two such different characters as Marsh and Buchanan.

There is much more to Rodney than the abrasive, beer-swilling sledger he was perceived to be during his own Ashes battles, but when he talks to the 16 lads in our new National Academy for the first time I hardly see him drawing on the thoughts of Sun Tzu.

The teachings of the fifth century Chinese military leader were adopted by Buchanan, the Australian coach, to urge his team to heap more misery on England.

Radio Four turned to Graham Gooch as the Englishman best suited to give his views on this.

"I read it in the noozpaper," he said, adding that he hadn't heard of Sun Tzu and proceeding in the usual anodyne manner.

Is it any wonder we have to turn to Australia for help?

A headline in the Observer said: Rodney Marsh proud to be a Pom, although, of course, he has said nothing of the kind.

He has said he needs a fresh challenge and cricket needs a strong England team. In other words the Aussies are getting bored with one-sided Ashes series.

Sport England are putting £500,000 a year into the academy and my guess is at least two fifths is going to Marsh.

How long has he got to prove his worth? "It won't happen overnight," he said, ominously slipping straight into an English attitude.

No, nothing ever happens overnight here, which is why we're 13 years behind Australia in setting up our academy.

Y ORKSHIRE have had an academy for several years, and it now looks as though they're going to win the County Championship for the first time since 1968.

Everything is going their way - no Muralitharan in either of the Roses battles, five missing for Surrey in the current match, and shambolic Essex to play in the final game at Scarborough.

The title could be in the bag by then, but it should be quite a celebration at the dear old festival.

AS Freemen of Newcastle, Jonathan Edwards and Alan Shearer can both graze their livestock on the Town Moor, which is overlooked by Edwards' six-bedroom Victorian house.

Otherwise there's not much common ground between them. For one thing, Edwards is fit and is hot favourite to add another gold medal to his collection at the World Championships starting in Edmonton today.

His world record of 18.29m is 20cm further than anyone else has managed, and five of the best six marks are his.

Edwards now seems to have his mind and body in perfect harmony, but it certainly hasn't always been the case. He was said to be a mental wreck on the eve of the Atlanta Olympics final, then he failed to justify favouritism at the 1997 and 1999 World Championships.

But now he has worked out how to balance his athletics and his christianity, and hopefully he'll find time to say a prayer for Shearer and Kieron Dyer.

Bobby Robson doesn't deserve another injury-ravaged season, but at least his struggles in the transfer market have eased with the arrival of Laurent Robert.

And if the much-maligned Intertoto Cup does provide a welcome passport into the UEFA Cup other top names will surely be more inclined to come to Tyneside. A few from Sunderland, who turned up their noses at the InterToto, might even be envious.

WHAT a fantastic effort by American Lance Armstrong to win the Tour de France three successive times following his recovery from cancer.

Sadly, cycling is tarnished by drug abuse, as is athletics, and it's a problem which won't go away. Paula Radcliffe is infuriated that a Russian who has beaten her twice this season is in Edmonton, despite testing positive for a banned substance.

The Edmonton Journal has apparently published a dummies' guide to track and field, in which the list of terms began with the word "doping".

Considering that they produced Ben Johnson, you'd think Canadians would be thoroughly familiar with the subject