There is no cricket series quite like The Ashes, which starts in Birmingham today, and one man who will be keeping a close eye on the five test matches taking place between England and Australia in the next few weeks is Frank Lampard, a keen cricketer in his youth.

Following their extraordinary World Cup triumph early this month, the first such success in their history, England have the chance to crown what has already been a glorious summer by regaining the Urn with victory over their great rivals Australia.

Lampard’s focus in the coming days will of course be preparing his players for the start of our Premier League campaign next weekend, but the boss will no doubt be keeping up-to-date with the score from Edgbaston as England try to seize the initiative in The Ashes.

‘I’m big fan of cricket – I still watch England games when I can,’ Lampard told the official Chelsea magazine in 2008.

‘If you go along to a Test match, you can sit and have a chit chat, a drink and watch a good game of cricket. I find it very relaxing, especially when you get a nice sunny day and you sit there with your mates.

‘I played from the age of 11 to 15 as a batsman who bowled a bit and I think I was pretty good, but whether I’d have gone on to be top drawer I don’t know.

‘In the end I started to get a bit fed up with it because it was a lot of commitment, but I really enjoyed it as a schoolboy.’

Lampard scored a century as a 12-year-old and received a cricket bat to mark the achievement, which came against one of his school’s big rivals. However in the end he did have to choose between continuing football or cricket, and what followed suggested his decision was vindicated!

‘Dad told me right from the start that playing both would be impossible. In his day they actually did play both sports – one in the winter and one in the summer – because the seasons didn’t coincide with each other. But now the football season is much longer and my dad knew that was the way it was going, so he told me that I’d need to focus on one or the other.

‘He only wanted me to be a footballer anyway so I played cricket for enjoyment, but it wasn’t ever really going to be an option for me to turn professional!'